Panthers v Rabbitohs
After getting the points in Round 16 against the Sea Eagles, the Rabbitohs are back on the road this Friday night, travelling out to the foot of the mountains to take on a resurgent Penrith Panthers outfit at Pepper Stadium.
The men in red and green turned on a controlled performance against Manly that included a mammoth defensive effort that is sure to have set a benchmark for the side for the remainder of the NRL season. Rabbitohs Head Coach, Michael Maguire was pleased with the performance
“A good defensive performance and obviously areas that we’re looking at are around our attack,” said Maguire.
“But we need to make sure we’re backing up that defence. The boys were very sound across the line (with) what was thrown at them.
“Penrith are a very similar team – they throw the ball around and obviously between Soward and Wallace and young Api, they throw a lot at you. There’s a lot of offload and a lot of play in them.
“Defensively we’re going to have to be right on song.”
Greg Inglis will be the only omission form the side owing to Origin duty. But the Rabbitohs mentor has welcomed back a number of senior players in recent weeks following injuries in what has proven to be a re-bolstering of stocks.
“A couple of little changes, but we’ve had that line-up before,” said Maguire.
“I think it’s good to see that a number of our senior players are back and being able to back-up games.
“The preparation that we have with these more senior players – it’s allowing to develop us moving forward.
“I think from probably two weeks prior, we had quite a number of our senior players not there,” said Maguire.
“To be able to get a lot of those players back in now – Issac Luke, Timmy Grant, Glenn Stewart, those more senior players – it’s good to have them as part of the team so we’re obviously looking forward to Friday’s game.
Among the most recent returning players was Stewart, whose late inclusion in Round 16 helped the Rabbitohs to victory. When asked what Stewart brought to the team, Maguire’s praise was wide.
“A lot of that seniority around how you play the game,” said Maguire.
“The things that he brings is; one a ball playing ability but also the ability to take the line on and challenge that.
“But I think defensively too he brings a lot of stability around that right edge so having him back is a great thing for us.”
The mantra this week at Redfern has been all about improvement, with prop-forward George Burgess emphasising that point leading into the clash.
“I feel we’re getting better and that we’re starting to build a bit of momentum, but we need to build on that,” said George.
“It’s a good opportunity for us to build on what we’ve been doing. Certainly we’ve been improving – we want that to continue, so we want to go out to Penrith and get the two points heading into the bye.
“The boys have all been training really well this week and we’re looking forward to taking that all out onto the field.”
To watch the full interview with Michael Maguire, please press play on the video player.
On the Fringe
The partnership between Bryson Goodwin and young-gun Aaron Gray seems to be evolving from week to week, with the pair combining on a number of occasions against the Sea Eagles in Round 16 – Gray producing a try for Goodwin on the back of an over the touch-line pass to the Kiwi international. The pairs’ ability to find the line has been a feature in recent weeks, and with more game-time you can expect this partnership to evolve even further as the season progresses.