Is Premiership-Town on the Horizon for the Ruthless Rabbitohs?
To answer the title of the article, I give you a resounding YES!
If they fail to win a 22nd Premiership trophy this campaign, then they’ll have come damn close. Since they won their last Grand Final, when they thrashed the hapless Bulldogs 30-6 in 2014, the Redfern-based side has had some high finishes (3rd place), as well as some low finishes (12th position). But they seemed to have added all the right ingredients for this season and gone hard in pre-season training. They are just two victories out of 1st place at the moment and their most recent game was a 40-12 smashing of the Warriors. A game in which they crossed for an outstanding 7 tries. While only conceding 2!
It’s not yet fully apparent how, but this is the year of the Rabbitoh. And listed below are three huge reasons and contributing factors why at the conclusion of this season, they’ll be adding yet another trophy to their cabinet.
Latrell Mitchell – When he’s hot, he burns the entire stadium down
When Latrell Mitchell is on fire, he is arguably the best player in the game. And time and time again, teams try, yet miserably fail in their attempts to stop him. Yes, he has yet to play consistent Footy for Souths. But also yes, when it comes down to crunch-time Rugby League, he will without a doubt be the biggest X-factor there is on the field. During his four seasons with the Roosters, prior to his arrival at South Sydney, he scored 65 tries! And he has 2 x Premierships to his name as well.
And that form, despite what people say, has shown through in his stats this campaign. Although he has only 1 try so far, he also has 6 try assists, which is good for equal 3rd best in the league. And he has added new elements to his game as well, such as his defence. He has successfully completed 33/41 tackles so far, good for an impressive 80% completion rate. He is also getting 5.3 tackle breaks per game and is creating some good second-chance plays for his side. Imagine what he could do if the media were not constantly vilifying him? Likewise, with the countless comments online! When push comes to shove, he’s shown time and time again he can be successful and win … this season ought to be no different.
An underrated forward pack – One capable of busting wide open any team in the NRL
For this section, I’m going to pick out two names that stand atop the others, Ethan Lowe and Tom Burgess. These two might not be the most glamorous forwards such as the Boyd Cordners or the Martin Taupaus of the game, but they bleed Red & Green and they leave it all out on the field, week in week out. Credit is due where credit is due for them. Both have won Premierships. Lowe has represented Queensland on one occasion and Tom has played for his home country of England in 24 matches.
Lowe weighs in at a heavy 105kg and has completed an amazing 94% of his tackles on the campaign, good for 153/163. He barely misses a beat and runs hard with the ball as well, good for a tick under 80m per game. And adding to his ever-improving tally of skills, he also has 1 try and 1 try assist this season. Tom weighs in at an even heavier 120kg and has completed 89% of his tackles this season. That is good for 168/189. He gets 145m per game and has conceded just the 1 penalty. They might not be the most special players in the game, but they bruise themselves every single game for their side and every Premiership contender needs just that!
Success against the top sides – They know how to topple the best of the best
Last season, Souths beat Sydney twice, Manly twice and the Raiders once. They had a commanding 38-6 victory against the Broncos and numerous other impressive wins as well. This came as they finished the regular season with a great 16-8 record (3rd place finish). Focusing on one game in particular, in the second week of the finals, they really showed their mettle as they beat the Sea Eagles 34-26. They came home late in that game scoring tries through Sutton (67th min) and Murray (71st min), to steal the game away from Des Hasler’s men.
Fast forward to this season and their opening win of the campaign was a 22-18 victory against the Sharks, a finals team from last season. Plus, in their last two matches, they have won by an insane collective score of 72-24; scoring 12 tries to 4 in the process! This is just a reminder that this is only from a six-game sample so far. They won that tightly contested game against Cronulla despite the possession being split at 50% all and additionally the tries were at 3 each apiece. Souths had a man go to the bin and 31 missed tackles. That was 4 more than Cronulla. They got it done despite the general game working heavily against them. A huge sign of a potential Premiership-winning side. They might not always beat the top sides, but they sure as hell seem to a lot of the time!
The Storm, the Raiders and the Eagles are just a few of the teams that stand in the way of the Rabbitohs attempting to win Premiership No.22 this year. But never fear, for Latrell Mitchell is here. And so are their bruised and bloodied forwards to back him up. And they know they can topple each and every team on their day. Latrell is the key to the whole operation, and the men in the middle are his cronies. But as we all know, when the Rabbitohs work hand in hand doing something, it always works out for them. Whether it’s winning, working their way back into the NRL, no matter what, they never give up. Souths will be your 2020 Premiers or pretty damn close.