The Contenders – The Halves
Over the coming weeks, Rabbitohs.com.au will take you through all the contenders for every jumper in the red and green’s starting 13. Every number is up for grabs, and those looking to fill the spots are as hungry as ever. Today, we give you the halves.
A new look halves combination could be on the cards this year at Redfern, with Captain John Sutton set to play a lot more football in the back row. The move comes on the back of the depth of talented halves currently at the Club, and Coach Michael Maguire is confident giving Keary another shot at the pivot position after showing glimpses of ability in 2013.
“They did a little bit together last year,” said Madge of Keary’s brief collaboration with Reynolds.
“Hopefully that relationship grows and we’ll see where it takes us. To have a bit of that insight into Luke and Adam – I think it’s going to be an exciting one for us.
“John (Sutton) gets an opportunity to play in the middle as well, so we’ve got some good options.
Adam Reynolds: It’s no accident that Adam Reynolds has cemented his spot in Souths’ number seven jersey, and if his performances in recent seasons are anything to go by, expect another brilliant one from Adam Reynolds.
After a solid first year in 2012, the Souths Junior was rewarded for his brilliant start to season 2013 with a City jumper on the back of his deadly accurate general play kicking. The half regularly gifted the Rabbitohs repeat sets with his deft kicking ability into the in-goal and when it came to goal-kicking, the story got even better.
Since records were kept, astonishingly, the Rabbitohs halfback is the most accurate sharp-shooter in the game’s history. When considering the names that Reynolds has trumped in this department, the halfback’s rise to the top of goal-kicking’s elite is a feat in itself, names such as; Halligan, Johns, El Masri, Taylor, Cronin and Simms.
But Reynolds’ kicking isn’t all. The Rabbitoh topped the team for try assists with a whopping 23 to his name, well ahead of Issac Luke who notched up 11, while also racking up the most amount of points for the season with 218 – Nathan Merritt came in second with 60.
John Sutton: ‘Sutto’ just seems to be getting better with age, and after having jointly picked up the George Piggins Medal with Greg Inglis in 2013, there’s no doubt that the Rabbitohs’ Captain will find a place in the starting line-up this season. The question is; where?
With the talents of Luke Keary pressing Michael Maguire for selection at five-eighth, Sutton could find himself playing his football at lock in 2014 – a testament to the depth and talent now available at the Club, but also a massive nod to Sutton’s versatility as a player.
As a ball-player, his ability to keep opposition defences in two minds has become one of the cornerstones of Souths’ attack – his short ball on to inside players close to the line often yielded line-breaks last season. He assisted in creating 10 tries and offloaded on 24 occasions (second highest in the team behind Issac Luke who offloaded 30 times). In addition though, Sutton proved that he was just as capable taking the line on himself, with 10 line-breaks and 66 tackle breaks during the course of 2013 for seven tries (28 points).
Should Sutton make the move to the 13 jersey, it opens a Pandora’s-box of possibilities that will see Souths bolster their point-scoring potential across the park with three playmakers at their disposal.
Luke Keary: Season 2014 could be Keary’s year. Rabbitohs fans caught a glimpse of the attacking prowess of the diminutive five-eighth on 10 occassions last season, with permanent five-eighth John Sutton shifting to lock on those occasions. The arrangement could become permanent in 2014.
With Keary at pivot, the Rabbitohs’ backline was electrified during his short stints on the pitch – amounting to an average of 34.9 minutes – a sight he and Coach Maguire will no doubt want to replicate and build upon.
His best outing in his first year in the top grade was undoubtedly against the Titans in Round 20, scoring two tries and making two line-breaks from just 17 minutes on the field. If the pivot can produce that kind of performance on a regular basis, expect the number six jersey to be permanently plastered on his back in partnership with Adam Reynolds at half.
Dylan Walker: Walker made his debut for the Rabbitohs in round 10 of the 2013 season and proceeded to make the most of his first opportunity in the top grade. He played just 15 matches in the NYC where the 91kg centre scored 76 points for the Rabbitohs, including 20 goals.
But by the end of 2013, Walker had made more appearances in first grade than he had in the NYC with 16 games, and having scored eight tries – one of which was voted as the Rabbitohs 2013 Try of the Year at the Red and Green Ball. His speed was obvious from the very beginning, while also managing to notch up an average of 84.7 metres per match, for 30 tackle breaks and 5 line breaks.
Known better as a centre, the young Rabbitoh has spent time training at five-eighth during the off-season, making him a genuine and viable option for the number six jersey should he be required.