NRL 3 months ago

South Sydney Rabbitohs 2017 Season Review

  • South Sydney Rabbitohs 2017 Season Review

    MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 26: Sam Burgess and Rabbitohs players look dejected at the full time siren after the round 25 NRL match between the Melbourne Storm and the South Sydney Rabbitohs at AAMI Park on August 26, 2017 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)

  • South Sydney Rabbitohs 2017 Season Review

    SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 10: Alex Johnston of the Rabbitohs celebrates scoring a try with team mates during the round 23 NRL match between the South Sydney Rabbitohs and the Canterbury Bulldogs at ANZ Stadium on August 10, 2017 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

  • South Sydney Rabbitohs 2017 Season Review

    MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 26: Michael Maguire, coach of the Rabbitohs looks dejected after the Storm score a try during the round 25 NRL match between the Melbourne Storm and the South Sydney Rabbitohs at AAMI Park on August 26, 2017 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)

The South Sydney Rabbitohs' fall following their 2014 premiership success took another turn in 2017, with the red and green brigade finishing in 12th position with nine wins to their name for the second season in a row. 

Unsignificant roster changes were possibly at fault for their poor season, with veteran Robbie Farah the headlining signing who has his best form behind him. Instead, it was the young stars that shone the brightest in a disappointing year. 

With Greg Inglis suffering a season-ending ACL injury in a Round 1 defeat to the Tigers, Alex Johnston stepped into 'GI's shoes comfortably and had a real coming of age season, playing 12 of his 22 games at fullback and scoring 22 tries for the season - 11 at fullback and 11 on the wing. After four seasons it's hard to believe that Alex Johnston is only 22 years of age, having scored 71 tries in just 83 NRL games, including a record 5 tries in one game against Penrith in Round 17. 

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Utility back Cody Walker had a brilliant second season in first grade, racking up 18 try assists, 5 more than his halves partner Adam Reynolds. 

Back rower Angus Crichton was officially unearthed as a superstar in the making in his first full season. Crichton played 8 games in his rookie year in 2016 however stepped up in 2017 to make 22 appearances and score 7 tries while starting in 18 games. Crichton has the makings of a potential Origin and Test star and is a talent that Souths should hold onto. 

The Rabbitohs just struggled to get a rhythm and hold onto it for a long stretch of the season, failing to play consistently good football while their lineup was often chopped and changed frequently. Long-serving forwards Dave Tyrrell and Jason Clark began to face the axe for poor showings after being regular faces in the 17 while George Burgess and Thomas Burgess didn't get to show us their damaging best. 

Souths showed their capabilities at different points of the season but they couldn't find it every week. Their best performance was a 42-14 demolition of Penrith however they lost their following four matches afterwards to end their finals hopes. Three victories in a row over the Dragons, Warriors and Bulldogs restored confidence in the team and each other or so it seemed as they were trounced 64-6 in Melbourne in Round 25 to produce one of their biggest defeats ever. 

Michael Maguire was unfortunately sacked at the end of the season after failing to return to the finals for the second year in a row, with his assistant Anthony Seibold taking up the head position. 

In order to succeed next season, Seibold needs to pick a spine and stick with it. 'Madge' was constantly alternating between Damien Cook and Farah as starting hooker as well as Alex Johnston and Cody Walker for the fullback position. The incoming coach has the luxury of bringing a fit Greg Inglis back into the side to solve the fullback problem while he needs to pick a starting hooker so that the team can stay settled. 

The pick-up of Newcastle's Dane Gagai will add some much needed pace, strength and creativity to the Souths backline and should form a formidable combination with Inglis.

Best player: Cody Walker

Top tryscorer: Alex Johnston (22)

Top pointscorer: Adam Reynolds (144)

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