Rabbitohs grow Queensland fan base
The Rabbitohs' 20-0 loss to North Queensland at Barlow Park was essentially a home game that wasn't, but despite suiting up in the heart of Cowboy country, coach Michael Maguire can see his side's northern fan base gaining momentum.
The small-scale football and athletics field, home of the Intrust Super Cup's Northern Pride, was filled to the brim on Sunday with a shade under 16,000 filling the established grandstand and temporary seating.
It signalled the fourth year Souths have brought one of their fixtures to Cairns, and while they have been outclassed two years in a row, Maguire was more than complimentary of the annual trip to Far North Queensland.
"We can't thank the Cairns people enough," the Rabbitohs coach said post-game.
"They've come out in numbers tonight... the crowd, they were excellent.
"Everyone in Cairns has been great. Actually getting around town, I think the Rabbitohs are growing a little bit of a territory here in Cairns, so it's nice to see a little bit of that up north."
The trip north has helped Souths improve their Queensland fan base, with over 1,100 Sunshine State members growing thanks to engaging events like their open trainings and fan signing sessions.
"Once again the Cairns fans turned out and they really filled the stadium here at Barlow Park. It was pretty compact and a lot of noise out there," Inglis said.
"There was a lot of support for the Rabbits and it's great to see this far north in Queensland."
While their 2016 Cairns venture was an off-field success, the Bunnies have some sizeable tasks ahead toward the end of the season.
While needing to rediscover a winning culture after five consecutive losses, the Bunnies also need to address an underperforming forward pack and the imminent departure of key playmaker Luke Keary.
Losers of five in a row and with their finals hopes all but dashed, the Bunnies have described the run home as a chance to build character.
"There are areas of the game that we definitely need to look at, and the boys are going through a period now where we're showing a fair bit of character about who we are as a club," Maguire said.
"What I do love about this competition is that, for us as a club, we've had highs and now we've been challenged about where we sit, and we get to find out the strengths of all areas of our club.
"It's quite enjoyable as a coach to have the highs, but these periods are the real defining moments of what we can create moving forward."