South Sydney super signing Greg Inglis and gun Rabbitohs Sam Burgess, Issac Luke and Luke Stuart have today been named in one of the club’s strongest line-ups on paper in years for their 2011 Telstra Premiership opener against the Roosters next Friday.
Rabbitohs coach John Lang has taken the unusual step of naming his side over a week before kick-off, with the talented line-up sure to have fans excited about the clash between the fierce eastern suburbs rivals which will open the 2011 season at the SFS.
With only Michael Crocker and Jason Clark unavailable to play in round one due to injury, Lang will be fielding close to his best possible team, however it will also be the first time Inglis, Luke, Burgess and Stuart have played a match together.
All four missed the three trial games – of which Souths only won one match against NSW Cup team Newtown - because they were recovering from surgery for a variety of injuries.
Rabbitohs captain Roy Asotasi said the club was not expecting the players returning from injury to be at their best in the first round against the grand finalists, but is still confident of turning around their poor pre-season form (lost 32-10 to Dragons and 42-4 to Titans).
“It may have been a blessing,” Asotasi said. “Those losses left us knowing we still had a lot of work to do. We have been guilty in the past of thinking we are in a different place than where we were really at (after trial wins).
“I have no worries about us finding our form sooner rather than later and the team gelling early.”
Asotasi said that while the South Sydney players were as excited as the fans to have Inglis at the club, they are not expecting him to be the Rabbitohs’ “saviour”.
“It’s a 13-man game … we are not expecting him to get us out of trouble,” he said.
“Last year we lost a lot of tight games. Greg will give guys around him confidence in those close contests.
“Just him turning up … the guys can’t believe he’s at South Sydney. It’s been a real boost for morale.
“But in terms of round one, we’re not expecting a lot from him coming off two surgeries. We’re not expecting him to be the saviour for the team. He will be our ‘x factor’ though.”
The Rabbitohs’ team is:
1) Rhys Wesser
2) Nathan Merritt
3) Dylan Farrell
4) Greg Inglis
5) Fetuli Talanoa
6) John Sutton
7) Chris Sandow
8) Luke Stuart
9) Issac Luke
10) Roy Asotasi (c)
11) Sam Burgess
12) David Taylor
13) Ben Lowe
14) Scott Geddes
15) Ben Ross
16) Eddy Pettybourne
17) Shannan McPherson
18) Dave Tyrrell