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Rabbitohs embrace weight of expectation



James MacSmith AAP Mon, Feb 25, 2013 - 11:06 AM

Weight of expectation will sit heavily on the shoulders of every South Sydney player in 2013, but coach Michael Maguire wouldn't have it any other way.

Never have the hopes of supporters of rugby league's most successful club been so high since their last premiership way back in 1971.

The Rabbitohs' run to within one game of the grand final last year pushed those hopes into the stratosphere and, from within the club, a quiet optimism permeates everything said and done.

Maguire performed wonders in his first year in charge at Redfern in 2012.

And the former Wigan mentor has emerged as the man who could deliver premiership No.21 to the cardinal and myrtle, more than four decades since the great Clive Churchill achieved the feat in a year in which the number of tackles in a set was increased from four to six and field goals were reduced from two points to one.

The fact that Maguire and his players are ready and willing to embrace the rich history of the Rabbitohs might just be their biggest asset as they attempt to defy years and years of misery.

"We see that expectation as a good thing," Maguire said.

"We have our own expectations within the club and, in many ways, they match those of our fans.

"We are still evolving as a playing group and continuing to grow as a team.

"We know what we did last year won't be good enough this year."

Quietly spoken and circumspect, Maguire was something of an unknown when he took the reins last year and the team struggled initially, losing three of their first four games under him.

But Maguire persisted with the structure he wanted while placing his faith in rookie Adam Reynolds as a chief playmaker and moving Greg Inglis to fullback, and a premiership contender began to emerge.

Reynolds and Inglis will again be key in 2013, as will inconsistent No.6 John Sutton, multi-talented forward Sam Burgess, enigmatic hooker Issac Luke and recruits Ben Te'o and Beau Champion.

And Maguire had a warning for rivals in 2013.

"We are well ahead of where we were this time last year," he said.

"This time last year, we were all getting to know one another and the way we wanted to play - the systems we wanted to put in place.

"That was always going to take time. That was always going to be the biggest test. But that is all behind us now.

"One of the keys of last season was that every player was buying into what we were trying to do and that is where we are again now but further down that track."

This is where Maguire returns to the weight of expectation on him and his players.

"That expectation comes with how we perform, and that's a good place to be in," Maguire says.

"These sort of things help us lift and, in turn, that motivates us further." 


Without dancing on poor Ben Barber's misfortunes, the stakes for NRL's best active fullback could come down to Greg Inglis vs Billy Slater.

Slater is marginally ahead on total points, tries, try assists, off loads, but has a very high error rate.

Inglis leads on tackle breaks, total runs and kick metres and is good for the occasional field goal (e.g. last years round 5 victory over Wests Tigers 16 v Souths 17).

Both are equal for line breaks.

I prefer Inglis, and when you factor in the other Souths weapons Adam Reynolds, Andrew Everingham, Nathan Merritt, the clan Burgess etc....2013 looks set to be the year of the Rabbitohs. 


Go the Bunnies!!

Fire up boys!! 


We are still evolving as a playing group and continuing to grow as a team.

"We know what we did last year won't be good enough this year."

Those two statements impress me.... 


It's far & away the best media mgt our club has done. So much better than the early season bravado of a few years back.

There was patch in the Charity Shield where the bunnies were really on & they looked great. Well actually they looked like Melbourne or Maguire's Wigan side - lots of bodies in motion, with a great attacking structure & players running some very subtle lines. It must be an absolute joy for Sutton to have the ball, look to his left and see 3 or 4 options.

As this season progresses we may see some really beautiful footy from the bunnies.

And watching Maguire's team develop it also strikes me that his system - deep structures with lots of layers/angles - requires players who have a fair bit of footy nous. When at Wigan people used to say he didn't always pick the best player - rather he picked the player that best fitted into his plan.

It's going to be a very interesting season. 


Yes we are still a work in progress team but they should now know what's expected of them and should see a little more improvement in attack. 


Are any more bunny players saving spots on their skin for premiership ink this year? 


I would think the whole lot of them have plenty of room seeing its 41 years since the last premiership! 


Do any have "Charity Shield Champions" inked on there somewhere? 


No, we're not as desperate as you think 

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