With kick-off of the Club’s 2016 season now less than a week away, we look at five burning questions facing the Rabbitohs before they take on the Sydney Roosters.
1. Who will wear the number six jersey?
With Luke Keary serving a suspension for Round 1, the door to the five-eighth position is well and truly open for this Sunday’s clash against the Roosters. After guiding the World All Stars to victory in this year’s All Stars match, Rabbitohs half Adam Reynolds is in the box seat to again guide the Club around the park at halfback, but the question of who will partner him in the pivot position remains open for discussion. Head Coach, Michael Maguire, could opt for the experience of John Sutton, who during the course of his long career has occupied the number six jersey for the majority of his career. But new face, Cody Walker, could also be the answer after a solid pre-season trial period. With Sutton now having made a permanent move to the forwards – and with a body to match that shift – Maguire may be reluctant to shift the Souths Junior back to his old position in favour of the sprightly Walker.
2. What will the outside backs look like?
The four centre/winger positions are all still up in the air following positive showings from all who put their hands up during pre-season. Incumbent centres Bryson Goodwin and Kirisome Auva’a did their chances of retaining their spots plenty of good in the trials, but don’t be surprised if someone like Hymel Hunt, Michael Oldfield, or Dane Nielsen find themselves in the centres. Equally, Aaron Gray and Alex Johnston showed their skills in this year’s trials and are in the box seat for winger positions. The final decision regarding the Club’ two centres will go a long way to deciding the make-up of Round 1s outside backs.
3. Will Madge opt for a two hooker rotation?
Why not have both? Cameron McInnes and Damien Cook may be different styles of dummy half, but they both bring plenty to the role – and Maguire could be looking to utilise that. While an 80 minute hooker has been the norm at the Club in recent seasons, the one-two punch of McInnes and Cook may be about to bring a point of difference to the 2016 Rabbitohs.
4. Is making the switch like riding a bike?
After returning to the Club following his year-long stint in Rugby Union, Sam Burgess showed no signs that he had forgotten how to play Rugby League when he played 60 minutes against the Gold Coast Titans at Pizzey Park. With a high level of involvement, plenty of enthusiasm, as well as a four-pointer to his name, Burgess laid a positive platform for his return to the game – one that he will no doubt be looking to build upon should he be selected to face the Roosters this Sunday. The dual English International played at lock against the Titans, but could find himself playing further up front at prop this week in the absence of twin brothers George (suspension), and Thomas Burgess (injured).
5. What will the next chapter in the Rabbitohs v Roosters rivalry bring?
“You can take me now I have seen it all!” With those words, Fox Sports commentator, Warren Smith, etched his name into Rabbitohs folklore alongside the men who orchestrated the side’s last-minute victory over the Roosters at Allianz Stadium in 2012. The game’s oldest rivalry has produced plenty of magic moments since 1908, and the big question is, what will it throw up this time around?