14/04/2024

South Sydney looking to win a premiership this season. (Image: South Sydney Rabbitohs/X)

After an amazing first 12 weeks to start the season, it all went wrong for the South Sydney Rabbitohs, as they finished with a 12-12 record and missed the eight after being on top of the table.

Last year

The club saw coaching changes, with the club parting ways with assistant coaches Sam Burgess and John Morris. Behind the scenes, the Rabbitohs were having issues with the treatment of their star players.

With organisational differences, Sam Burgess left the club and became a coach for the Warrington Wolves in the Super League.

Injuries to players Latrell Mitchell and Campbell Graham throughout the season, there were signs that the Rabbitohs were struggling to put out a fit and healthy side that could play quality football for 80 minutes without looking like they were hurt or something bothering the players.

The Rabbitohs’ struggles offensively allowed opposing teams to play a high-quality defence week in and week out on a team with two of the best-attacking players in the competition in Latrell and Cody Walker. 

Squad Changes

Ins: Sean Keppie (Manly Sea Eagles), Jack Wighton (Canberra Raiders)

Outs: Jed Cartwright (Newcastle Knights), Hame Sele (St George Dragons), Blake Taaffe (Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs)

Track Watch

Campbell Graham is expected to be out for 4-6 months with a sternum injury.

Along with Graham, young rising talent Tyrone Munro also has a shoulder injury that will see him on the sidelines for two months. 

Jacob Gagai, the younger brother of Newcastle Knights player Dane Gagai, will make his first-grade debut for the Bunnies on the wing, with Richard Kennar replacing Campbell Graham’s centre spot.

More NRL News

What to Expect

This season, the Rabbitohs look like a more balanced group in terms of talent across the board.

Jack Wighton joining the club makes this team a dangerous side, especially with their strike talent on the left edge. It is going to cause a lot of trouble for teams defensively trying to figure out how to stop all the different options and reads the Rabbitohs have.

It will be a year of redemption, especially with what happened behind the scenes and the disappointing fall from being one of the best teams early in the season to one that missed the finals.

It’s a big year for:

Tallis Duncan 

Being compared to Cameron Murray, Tallis Duncan impressed in the few games he had for the club last season, and with the club losing a couple of pieces off the bench, the young Bunnies junior is expected to have a big year contributing minutes off the bench for the premiership contending team. 

Duncan’s effort in the middle and his ceiling as a ball-playing forward opens up many avenues when it comes to minutes in the middle or on the edge.

Being extended in the long term at the club, Duncan is expected to progress year by year and take strides in his game, and with question marks on some players’ futures at the club, it wouldn’t be a shock if Duncan grabs a starting spot in the foreseeable future.

Biggest unanswered question?

Can Latrell Mitchell put a full season together and help the club win a premiership?

It is a long question with lots of different parts. However, since Mitchell joined the Rabbitohs, he has always experienced interrupted playing time.

The star player in this time has been suspended or injured in critical periods of the rugby league season, missing out on the finals in 2020, the finals run that saw them lose in the 2021 grand final to Penrith, and missing out on a chunk of last season that saw him be ruled out of State of Origin carrying injuries.

If he can take care of his body and be disciplined, the Bunnies can play high-quality football with Latrell roaming at fullback to be able to take the club to premiership glory.

Latrell knows the expectations he has as the franchise player, and if he can play 20 games while he plays on Origin on top while he manages the workload he endures, the Rabbitohs can easily be a finals team that a lot of teams won’t want to face in September.  

Coach Index

Jason Demitreou – Safe

Despite the chaos with the coaching staff, Demitreou has extended his stay with the club. While he is safe for the time being, the longer they have a hard time making finals and not winning the premiership, the harder it will be for the coach to have his job in the long term.

Predicted Round 1 Lineup

  1. Latrell Mitchell
  2. Alex Johnston
  3. Isaiah Tass
  4. Richard Kennar
  5. Jacob Gagai
  6. Cody Walker
  7. Lachlan Ilias 
  8. Tevita Tatola
  9. Damien Cook
  10. Sean Keppie
  11. Keaon Koloamatangi 
  12. Jai Arrow
  13. Cameron Murray
  14. Siliva Havili 
  15. Jacob Host
  16. Davvy Moale
  17. Thomas Burgess  

Ladder Prediction

With everyone healthy, they will make it to the finals, anywhere from the top 4 to 7th-8th.

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