Rabbitohs coach Michael Maguire expects the enthusiasm generated by the brigade of young players at pre-season training to carry over into the annual Charity Shield fixture against the Dragons at ANZ Stadium
Maguire and South Sydney Captain Greg Inglis today helped launch this season’s Charity Shield, kicking off at 4pm on Sunday, February 19, and the pair were full of praise for the contribution of the youngsters in the Rabbitohs squad.
“The boys have really applied themselves through the pre-season and I think through Greg and our leadership team, and the boys helping and supporting the younger guys, the younger guys have had a really good education,” Maguire said.
“Over the last two months I have seen the development in the younger boys really lift and I think that has helped the more senior boys, it has bought a lot of enthusiasm.
“Leading into the games now we are really looking forward to just applying the things we have been practicing. It is exciting because we have got competition across each position, which has made training really enjoyable.”
Since returning to training, Inglis said he was enjoying mentoring the young players in the squad, like Braidon Burns, Angus Chrichton, Tyrell Fuimaono, Cameron Murray and Connor Tracey.
“We have got a lot of young talent in our squad and each and every day is a learning curve for myself to help them as well,” Inglis said.
“They are not only helping me out but I am also returning the favour by helping them out and I am really looking forward to the season ahead.”
The Charity Shield began 35 years ago as a fundraiser for hospitals in the South Sydney and St George areas and quickly forged a reputation among players and fans as the unofficial start to the season.
“This is our last chance to gain confidence going into round one so it’s a game we really value as players,” St George Illawarra international Jason Nightingale said.
“I think it is also a good chance to test the occasion because the Charity Shield usually attracts a good crowd and I am sure this year will be no different.
“The atmosphere simulates round one and if you add to that the rivalry we have had with South Sydney for a lot of years it really feels like a lot more than a trial.”
Off the field, the main focus of the Charity Shield for the Rabbitohs will be Souths Cares, which support disadvantaged and marginalised youth and their families through the delivery of capacity building programs addressing education, training, health and employment needs.
Souths Cares has delivered enduring and positive change for disadvantaged and marginalised people through inclusive education, employment and health programs since 2008.
Last year Souths Cares delivered over $3million in social impact, and positioned the Rabbitohs as a national leader in community engagement and social impact.
In 2016, over 90% of HSC graduates in Souths Cares mentoring programs moved into study, training or work, while Souths Cares employment programs placed 150 people into employment and ensured 9,000 school children received healthy lifestyle messages.