The South Sydney Rabbitohs’ 2015 season commenced with the team taking part in the second instalment of the annual Auckland Nines tournament, with the side grouped with then-reigning champions the North Queensland Cowboys, plus the Melbourne Storm and Penrith Panthers.
Leading into the pre-season competition, Coach Michael Maguire named an 18 man squad that would take part in the tournament. The squad consisted of a blend of experience and youth, with the likes of Aaron Gray, Angus Crichton and Chris Grevsmuhl getting their first shot at senior football with the Rabbitohs, while the retired Matt King surprised the red and green faithful by announcing a one-time return for the tournament.
Despite announcing a well-rounded squad, there were a number of notable exclusions from Maguire’s side, with senior squad members such as Greg Inglis and John Sutton missing from the line-up, along with new recruits Glenn Stewart and Tim Grant.
The Rabbitohs Auckland Nines campaign kicked-off with an 11-4 victory against the Penrith Panthers on Day 1 of the competition at Eden Park.
South Sydney fielded an experienced side, with all players bar one having NRL experience, yet it was Penrith that opened the scoring, courtesy of a well-placed kick from Isaac John to Tupou Sopoaga, who crashed over for a try. Despite the positive start from the Panthers, it would be the only points that they would score in the match as the Rabbitohs went on to control the remainder of proceedings.
Adam Reynolds took charge straight after the Panthers took the lead, when he put his boot to good use – grubbering between the legs of a Panthers player before Jason Clark collected it to score a try in the bonus zone to put the Rabbitohs ahead. Reynolds converted from right in front to make it 7-4.
Shortly after, it was Isaac Luke’s turn to make inroads in attack. Darting from dummy half, Luke was securing easy metres deep inside the Panthers half on consecutive tackles. Chris McQueen eventually benefited from the swift offensive movement with a four-pointer. Luke missed the conversion from out wide to take the teams into the sheds at 11-4.
The second half of the game resulted in no points being scored by either team, despite attacking opportunities being created by both sides. The 11-4 win providing the Rabbitohs with momentum leading into their encounter with the North Queensland Cowboys.
Stay tuned to Rabbitohs.com.au as we continue to rewind through the 2015 season.