Inglis revelling in Souths captaincy
Veteran teammate Lote Tuqiri says captaining the Rabbitohs is bringing the best out of Greg Inglis, and it's hard to argue with him after the fullback's three-try, five-star showing in their 42-16 thumping of the Broncos.
Inglis was phenomenal in bagging the 10th hat-trick of his career, terrorising Brisbane for the second time in as many matches with his second try – which combined the freakish power, skill, speed and support play few in the game can match – one that will be talked about for years to come.
Tuqiri has played alongside players capable of rarest displays of individual brilliance in a glittering 15-year career in both league and union – from Benji Marshall and Darren Lockyer, to Stephen Larkham and Kurtley Beale – and admitted he did not know where to rank Inglis's stunning performance in terms of the best he had seen.
But he does have an idea of what has spurred it.
"You never know with Greg, he sort of cruises around but I think what has been good with him is having the responsibility of the captaincy," Tuqiri said.
"That is not to say he hasn't turned up before but mentally he has to be switched on and I think that has really helped his game and I guess moved his game to another level. He has done that tonight and he has been doing that for the last couple of weeks. We're just getting the fruits of it."
Inglis's spectacular display could not have come at a better time for the Rabbitohs. Having shot out of the blocks with a similarly impressive run of form to start the season, culminating in the breathtaking 90-metre try in which he left seven Brisbane defenders for dead on Anzac Day, Inglis endured a quiet Origin series by his lofty standards and has wheeled away consistently at the back while young teammates Alex Johnston and Dylan Walker have shone in recent weeks.
But if the former Golden Boot winner can replicate the type of form that thoroughly blew the Broncos off the park over the final two months of the season, he could well be the final piece in the puzzle of the Rabbitohs' first premiership win since 1971.
Rabbitohs coach Michael MaGuire said he didn't believe Inglis's man-of-the-match display was necessarily a 'breakout performance', but credited the Kangaroos and Maroons superstar for the effort he puts in on the training paddock.
"I think particularly in the last month he's been pretty thorough for us and if you keep putting yourself in those situations and keep working hard like he is then the opportunities come," MaGuire said.
"He scored a pretty good one when we were up in Brisbane and he ran the length [of the field] so he keeps putting himself in the picture and one thing Greg has really tried to do is just to give himself an opportunity to be in the right place at the right time.
"That is how hard he is working and it is a big reflection on how he trains and where he is at the moment. Just with life and family and all of those sorts of things, he is very happy and that reflects on the team because he is a very big leader in what we have."
MaGuire confirmed after the win, which takes the Bunnies to a share of first place alongside Manly on the ladder, that regular skipper John Sutton was still "two to three weeks away" from a return from a knee injury, which means Inglis will likely again lead the red and green next Saturday night against the Cowboys.