The South Sydney Rabbitohs returned to training today (Monday) following the Christmas and New Year’s break, with a brace of new faces blending in with familiar ones.
After a hard-fought Four Nations tournament, Kangaroo representatives, Dylan Walker and Alex Johnston returned to Redfern today to train alongside England reps George and Thomas Burgess and Kiwi hooker Issac Luke for the first time since winning the 2014 Premiership.
Meanwhile, the new faces came courtesy of the addition of ‘train and trial’ contracted players, Wartovo Puara and Thompson Teteh – both from the PNG Hunters – as well as Fijian international Daryl Millard – formerly of the Bulldogs, Dragons, Wakefield Trinity and Catalans.
Puara, 24, is a hooker who has also represented the PNG Kumuls against the Australian Prime Minister’s XIII, and was part of the Kumuls’ World Cup train on squad in 2013, while Teteh, 25, is a centre who also played with the PNG Hunters Queensland Cup side in 2014, and was also part of the Kumuls’ World Cup train on squad in 2013.
Millard, 29, is an outside back who comes to Redfern with 60 NRL games to his name as well as 97 Super League matches. Millard has also earned eight caps for Fiji and two matches for the ESL Exiles (2012-13).
“We’ve had a number of people come in for an opportunity in the form of the two boys from PNG as well as Darryl, and a number of great juniors who are working their way up,” said Rabbitohs Head Coach, Michael Maguire.
“The goal for all of them is the same – to be in the best shape they can to give themselves the best opportunity to perform. The boys understand that if they’re performing and working hard, the opportunities will be there when game time comes around.”
But the side is still not at full-strength, with the Rabbitohs yet to be bolstered by the return of Kangaroo fullback Greg Inglis following another action packed 2014 season.
“With Greg, it’s all about management,” said Maguire.
“He plays a lot of football every year whether it be at club, state or international level, so we’re conscious of managing his workload.
“Having said that, Greg knows what he has to do and he’s been doing plenty in the background on his own as well as being in regular contact with all of us here at the Club to keep him up to speed.
“He’s looking forward to returning next Monday and we’re looking forward to having him back on deck."
Despite it only being day one of training for the new-year, according to the Head Coach, the side has thrown itself straight back into the grind with a number of pleasing results.
“They’ve all come back really well,” said Madge of his side.
“There have already been a couple of personal best times in the various runs that we’ve done, so they’ve jumped straight back into it and that’s certainly very pleasing to see.
“We’ve had a good little break, but knowing that there are games coming up at the back end of this month has helped the boys stay in shape, so I’m very pleased with that.”