Rabbitohs ready for rough period with record rep players
South Sydney are set to enter uncharted territory for the first time in 38 years as the side prepares to overcome their busiest representative period in club history.
The Rabbitohs matched a club record on Monday with four players - Greg Inglis, Damien Cook, Dane Gagai and Angus Crichton – picked for their respective states in preparation for Origin I at the MCG on Wednesday.
Not since 2013 have the Rabbitohs been represented so highly in the Holden State of Origin arena and with the Denver Test between England and New Zealand set to feature the Burgess brothers – Sam, Tom and George – in June, the next six weeks loom as vital in the side's quest for a top-four finish in the Telstra Premiership.
Rabbitohs forward George Burgess anointed veteran hooker Robbie Farah as the man to lead the side through the absence of key men and the club's overall depth.
Farah has not featured in first grade this season but gets a chance against the Sharks with Cook on representative duty.
"This year we've got good depth in our squad, and an experienced hooker in Robbie Farah that can help steer the ship through this Origin period," Burgess said.
"We've got some good young players to come and fill some spots as well. I'm confident in what we can do over this Origin period."
Rabbitohs halfback Adam Reynolds was confident the return of Farah would keep the side's momentum continuing.
"Nothing changes for us, we are still who we are at training. We'll do a job at training and hopefully transfer it out on the park on Friday night," Reynolds said.
"Cookie is doing some wonderful things here at the moment and Robbie is a world-class player. If you're going to have a replacement he's the replacement you want.
"Fortunately for us we've got him and other players in our squad who will fill the void while the Origin players are out."
The Bunnies are preparing for a high-flying Cronulla Sharks side on a six-game winning streak and boosted by the non-selections of NSW pair Wade Graham and Andrew Fifita, along with experienced leaders Paul Gallen and Luke Lewis.
While the clash looms as a mismatch between two of the more in-form teams in the competition with the Rabbitohs in a depleted state, the hosts have a strong record against the Sharks, winning seven of eight at ANZ Stadium.
"I wouldn't say we've put it together yet, there is still a long way to go in the season," Reynolds said.
"Just the little areas, I don't want to give too much away but we've identified a few things we need to tidy up and be better at.
"We've been playing some good consistent football, it's about maintaining that now through this Origin period we have to do well."