Rabbitohs' mid-season review
Things have been
humming along nicely for the Rabbitohs, who after some early concern managed to
cover for the loss of hooker Issac Luke for 8 week without too much fuss. But their depth will be sorely tested heading
out of the Origin period as fatigue and more injuries bite.
Ladder position: 5th.
Overview: After a Round 1 demolition job on the premiers plenty went on record declaring 2014 the Year of the Rabbit, and with the clubs rounding the halfway point of the season the Bunnies are again working their way into a position to end their 43-year premiership drought. However, it's been a bumpy ride for Michael Maguire's men thus far. Three losses inside the first month had alarm bells ringing amid rumours of discontent in the playing ranks, but with just two defeats in the past two months Souths now sit comfortably in the top eight, with their best football still ahead of them.
The loss of Greg Inglis for what could be a lengthy stint on the sidelines will be tempered by the performance of the side without him in the second half of their 34-18 triumph over the Warriors, when they gutsed through a significant injury toll to produce one of their best showings without the Queensland and Kangaroos superstar on the pitch since joining the club in 2011.
Positives: The only thing better than one Burgess brother is four of the colossuses, but for Souths this year Sam and George have been neck and neck as the Bunnies' best forward when it comes to going hammer and tongs at the opposition. Rival packs have picked them out for special treatment and the pair has returned fire and then some, with Sam ranking top of the NRL's big men for metres per game (173), all run metres (2246) and all runs (263) and offloads with 33 placing him equal alongside Brisbane's Corey Parker. Hot on his heels is younger brother George, who has shown no signs of the dreaded second-year syndrome with 1802 metres (second best amongst the competition's forwards) and 47 tackle breaks (the best from a forward and equal eighth in the NRL) of his own.
A special mention also goes to the younger brigade led by Apisai Koroisau, Alex Johnston and Dylan Walker that has impressed many punters and pundits alike so far in 2014.
doubts over Adam Reynolds' ability to step up in big games at the back end of
2013 threatens to include regular NRL games this year, with the young
halfback's form and numbers well down in the opening half of the year. His
eight try assists from 13 matches are a far cry from his average of just under
one a game last year, while he's also taking on the line less and ranks outside
the top 50 in the NRL for line break assists, with just three bordering on unacceptable
for a top-shelf playmaker. Reynolds' struggles are emblematic of a Rabbitohs
attack that has proved as subtle as a sledgehammer at times this year, appearing
bereft of a plan B when oppositions have muscled up and matched their power
Biggest Moment: For sheer viewing pleasure it's impossible to go past when the GI locomotive switched into hyper-drive against the Broncos on Anzac Day to produce one of, if not THE, greatest individual tries rugby league has ever seen. Cleaning up a Ben Barba chip kick 11 metres out from his own line, Inglis took flight and promptly left a staggered Broncos defence looking like the aftermath of a trailer park tornado. With a mix of balance, power and sheer pace that not even a former East German geneticist could cook up, Inglis left seven Brisbane defenders in his wake before turning on the afterburners to beat the cover defence and touch down in the corner for the type of breathtaking piece of play people will tell other people's grandchildren about.
NRL.com prediction: Having consulted the ladder predictor we see the Bunnies finishing 32 or 34 points, good enough for the top six and knocking on the door of the top four.