Rabbitohs Head Coach Michael Maguire isn’t one to give his team a grade, but after half a season’s worth of football, the man holding the clipboard at South Sydney gives his views on the Club’s progress in 2015 in his Half Yearly Report Card.
As the Rabbitohs prepare to take on the Wests Tigers for the second time this season on Friday night, the red and green’s come into the round in fifth position on the competition ladder with 16 points, eight wins, five losses and a points differential of 48.
After opening the 2015 season with wins over the Broncos, Roosters and Tigers, the Rabbitohs proceeded to lose five of their next 10 games – going down to Parramatta, North Queensland, Cronulla, Canberra and Melbourne.
But the period was punctuated by a number of crucial wins, including a one-point victory over the Bulldogs on Good Friday and victory over St George Illawarra, before going on to grab three consecutive wins by downing Parramatta, the Gold Coast and most recently the Warriors in Perth.
For Maguire, among the most pleasing by-products of the first half of season 2015 is his team’s resilience.
“We’ve learned a lot about ourselves, especially when it comes to overcoming adversity,” said Maguire.
“The players themselves are continually dedicating their time to improving themselves. That’s probably the biggest thing that we continually work towards each week – reaching those high standards that we set for ourselves.
“The competition – as it has shown – is very tight each week, so we need to continually show up each week and be at our best.
“From a coaching perspective, the most pleasing thing to see is how they’ve knuckled down to that week in and week out grind.”
Despite losing the services of players such as John Sutton, Glenn Stewart and Adam Reynolds at various stages so far in 2015, Maguire has been pleased by the level of leadership shown by existing squad members to rise to the occasion and get the job done.
“There were periods there where we didn’t have John Sutton or Adam Reynolds – that’s when others players begin to stand up,” said Maguire.
“Luke Keary has really taken the opportunity with those two boys gone for long periods, but he’s just one of a number of players I could talk about who have developed in our team and really grown.
“I think Greg Inglis as a Captain has really grown, as well as ‘Sutto’ in a leadership capacity. Both those guys do a lot of work in terms of helping the younger players in the team.
“Then you’ve also got someone like Glenn Stewart who has been injured for a little while now – he’s just training really hard in the background and showing great leadership and commitment to getting back out onto the field again. All of these little things help us as a team.”
The opening half of season 2015 has also seen the emergence of a number of young-guns such as Aaron Gray, Chris Grevsmuhl and Nathan Brown – in addition to Cameron McInnes who made his Rabbitohs debut in 2014.
All are sure to play pivotal roles for the Rabbitohs for the remainder of the season according to Maguire, who has praised his team as a whole for exuding a positive influence on the new additions to the team.
“Our younger players have really stepped up and a lot of that comes down to the influence of our senior boys,” said Maguire.
“The young boys look to the older boys and they see what’s required of them – someone like Nathan Brown for example, who arrived quite late in the piece in pre-season, he’s worked extremely hard and he’s reaping the rewards now.
“It just proves that if you’re doing the work in the background, the opportunity arises.”