Baby Bunnies benefit from Inglis lessons
If Greg Inglis says he sees a lot of himself in the next generation of Rabbitoh talent that have added panache to the power they have become renowned for, it's more than a passing reference to an NRL ad of six years ago.
As the story has now been told on numerous occasions, a 13-year-old Alex Johnston played a young Inglis in an NRL promotion in 2008 and now the latest captain of the South Sydney Rabbitohs is helping to nurture Johnston, Dylan Walker and Kirisome Auva'a into long and illustrious first grade careers.
Their six tries combined against the Knights on Sunday took the trio of Johnston, Walker and Auva'a to a try-scoring tally of 30 for season 2014 and their combination of speed and power added a new dimension to the Rabbitohs' attack.
In fact, that South Sydney can post 50 points without Inglis playing the dominant hand is testament to the threat they pose to opposition defences and gives their stand-in captain something to be very proud of.
"Those kids I sit back and really admire," said Inglis, who captained an NRL club for the first time in the absence of John Sutton and Sam Burgess.
"They've got a lot of talent and what's really good about them is that their feet are still grounded and they're going to go a long way in this game.
"I first met [Johnston] in 2008 when we did an NRL ad together. He played myself and a couple of years down the track he's running outside of me. It's pleasing to see a young kid like that really stick at it and make his dream come true."
In addition to offering his insights into positional play and the preparation that is expected of an NRL player, Inglis said he is endeavouring to assist in their development by simply sharing the difficult experiences he went through at their age.
Early in his career when he was living in Newcastle, Inglis became homesick to the point where he almost gave up on his dream to head home to Bowraville and is now helping this latest litter to fulfil theirs.
"There are a lot of things in the background, life away from footy," said Inglis. "I remember coming through as a kid in Melbourne it was a bit tough but I'm just talking to them about my experience as I was coming through the ranks and just helping them as much as I can and it's also helping me as well.
"That's pretty much the big thing, that it's not always about footy."
The status of Sam Burgess's shoulder injury will likely determine whether Inglis gets the opportunity to lead the Rabbitohs onto the famed Sydney Cricket Ground against the Sea Eagles on Friday night but even if he doesn't get another chance to wear the (c) beside his name, the 27-year-old said the honour is one he will cherish for the rest of his career.
"When 'Madge' (South Sydney coach Michael Maguire) told me that I was going to be captain it was such a great honour for myself, to be the first time as captain of any NRL club. Being captain of Souths, I'm honoured and privileged to do it," he said after a performance in which he had 33 touches, scored a try, made a line break and ran for 159 metres.
"I didn't really change too much of my game or how I conducted myself around the club. We've got leaders all over [the field] with certain individuals; the halves with 'Reyno' (Adam Reynolds) on the right side and [Luke] Keary on the left and 'Bully' (Issac Luke) in the middle so to lead this team was a great honour for myself and I'm glad that I'm stand-in captain for now.
"I can warm to [being captain], without a doubt, but I'm not going to change the way I think or play the game. We've got other leaders in our team and we've got very good direction. 'Sutto' (John Sutton) is always in the background and the boys are going to help out there until he comes back."