In the blink of an eye, the 2016 trial period has now come to a close, with the Rabbitohs finishing up with two wins from their two full-format games.
Following the 2016 Auckland Nines tournament in early February, the Rabbitohs played against the St George Illawarra Dragons in the Charity Shield, as well as the Gold Coast Titans last Saturday night – the men in Red and Green producing solid performances to take the points on the scoreboard on both occasions.
But perhaps of even more significance, the performances gave Rabbitohs Head Coach Michael Maguire plenty to think about as he now ponders the make-up of his team to take on the Roosters in Round 1 of the NRL Premiership on Sunday March 8 at Allianz Stadium.
“I reckon it’s given me some really good food for thought,” admitted Maguire.
“We had a lot of young guys come in throughout the pre-season and (they) worked extremely hard to achieve.
“There’s a lot of depth amongst our Club and through what we’ve put in through the Norths Bears and Souths Juniors. They add a lot to what we’re doing moving forward.
“Across positions we’ve got a lot of competition and I think that’s very healthy for bringing the best out of every individual.
“I’ve got a group of players that want to work hard for each other – they do that at training and obviously when the teams are picked, it’s about the team.
“They’re enjoying playing together and they’re hungry, and that’s what you want leading into the first round.”
We wrap up the 2016 trial period as we now prepare for our NRL campaign.
This year’s instalment of the Nines tournament saw Maguire opt for a balance of experience and youth – the likes of John Sutton playing alongside young guns such as Hymel Hunt in the reduced format tournament. While Souths would only win their first game against the Roosters, the platform saw the emergence of Hunt as well as Damien Cook and Cody Walker (among others) – all of whom would go on to play key roles in the Club’s first two full-format trials. With Cook looking dangerous from dummy-half, Hunt running and finishing well, and Walker keeping the defensive line guessing, the new faces made their presence felt, thus giving Maguire a lot to think about.
The Rabbitohs would retain the Charity Shield for the fourth year running with their 16-14 victory – a victory over an all but full-strength Dragons outfit. With Souths missing a number of players including All Star representatives; Greg Inglis, Adam Reynolds and Thomas Burgess, the ‘Baby Bunnies’ set about deconstructing the Dragons in their quest for the coveted Charity Shield as well as positions. With a 30 man squad being given the opportunity to shine, a number of North Sydney players threw their hat in the ring with impressive performances, while the Club’s strong performers from the Nines continued their run of form.
Gold Coast Trial
With experienced Rabbitohs back on deck for the final trial of the 2016 pre-season, Souths fielded a strong outfit at Pizzey Park that saw the Club come away with a 22-20 victory. The return of Sam Burgess to the Club was a point of interest, with the Englishman playing the majority of the clash, and even managing to score a try. Inglis also turned out for his first foray in the red and green for 2016 with the skipper also coming away with a four-pointer.