Maguire too clever by halves
It was the kind of coaching masterstroke that the Socceroos could've used in Brazil, but Rabbitohs coach Michael Maguire said it was more than a calculated risk.
The third-year mentor's 64th minute substitution of halfback Adam Reynolds for young gun Luke Keary proved a stroke of genius after the rookie playmaker set up the match-turning play with his first touch of the night.
With the Rabbitohs attack struggling to put a wasteful Eels side away in the second half, Maguire pulled his first-choice halfback and turned to Keary to provide some spark.
And the 22-year-old took less than a minute to produce, helping orchestrate the final three tries of the game to record a 32-12 win and cement their spot in the top four.
"That's why you practise. And the boys back themselves with their practice and going through the process of what we do at training is about doing that on the field," Maguire said post-game.
"We knew if we gave ourselves opportunities by hanging onto the ball – which we've probably struggled with the last couple of weeks – then we can build pressure, which tonight showed.
"It's pretty obvious how we like to play, [but] last couple of weeks we haven't executed because of the hanging onto the ball. Tonight was a night where we corrected our completions and that's what we've got to make sure we build on now."
Maguire admitted he had always planned to take Reynolds off at some stage, but was just unsure when.
"We talk about all sorts of opportunities that we can have with our team. Whether or not it plays out that way is dependent on how the game is," he said.
"You've only got a certain amount of subs that you can utilise. It's a tricky situation going towards the back-end of the game.
"Fair credit to our forwards, how hard they work to have the fitness because it allowed us to have a few extra subs up our sleeve in that second half and it gave us that opportunity to put Luke out there."
He also explained that while the playmaking triumvirate of Reynolds, Keary and John Sutton would "keep evolving", he preferred to have Sutton as his first-choice five-eighth.
"With John at six, he provides a real steadiness in how we are as a team. So I think the forwards feed off him playing forward. And we've had a lot of success with him being at six," he said.
"We've got opportunities where we can push him into the back row if need be but at the moment I'm pretty comfortable with how Sutto's playing at six. And obviously with Adam and Luke there, it provides us with some great options."