The 2016 Contenders: The Halves
With trial matches behind us and the 2016 Telstra Premiership fast approaching, it’s time to start asking the big positional questions. Today, it’s all about the halves.
Reynolds certainly fits the traditional number seven mould. Small in stature, big on heart, quick-witted and cheeky – the Souths Junior has cemented his place in the number seven jersey since making his debut for the Club in 2012.
A brilliant organiser with a pin-point boot and the ability to capitalise on unfolding opportunities, Reynolds stands as the prime contender for the number seven jersey, particularly considering his solid performance for the World All Stars a few weeks ago. Reynolds would prove the difference in the match – his two goals helping his side to a four point victory.
In season 2015, Reynolds would be the Rabbitohs highest point-scorer, slotting 53 of 65 shots at goal (81.5%) and scoring a try and a field goal to amass a tally of 111 points. Unsurprisingly, Reynolds was prominent in attack, providing nine try assists as well as kicking for an average of 356 metres per game.
With the cheeky partnership of Luke Keary at five-eighth and Adam Reynolds at halfback potentially coming into its third year, the Rabbitohs are blessed with continuity in the all-important play-making roles. Keary didn’t hurt his chances of retaining the number six jersey for season 2016 with his trial form
In 2015, Keary led South Sydney to a three-match winning-streak in the number seven jersey from Round 11 to 13, revitalizing the Rabbitohs season around the State of Origin period.
Playing in his favoured position of five-eighth, Keary managed to form a number of combinations with both the Rabbitohs forwards and backs, who made full use of his accurate passing game. The little half’s potency in attack is highlighted by the 11 line-break assists and nine try-assists amassed throughout the 2015 season.
Additionally, Keary also punched above his weight in defence by making 491 tackles during the season – the most of any Rabbitohs back-line player – with an effectiveness of 85.4%.
A versatile Souths Junior who is just as comfortable at five-eighth as he is in the back-row, John Sutton will play an integral role for the Rabbitohs in 2016 whether he plays in the number six, or slots into the back-row.
While having played the majority of his career at five-eighth, in many ways the Souths Junior established himself as a ‘Mr Fix-it’ in both seasons 2014 and 2015 after shifting to the back-row – a move that diversified his skills and opened more possibilities for the veteran’s game.
With the injury of Adam Reynolds early in the season, Sutton again found himself filling in at number six, providing stability to the back-line and a level head with his many years of experience in that position. However, the Club’s record-holder for most first-grade games (now at 246), appeared in a total of just 17 games after a string of injuries of his own – including a season ending leg-break late in the season.
From a 170 runs, Sutton made a total of 1326 metres with the ball in hand while making three line-breaks and 14 offloads.
Cody Walker could find himself wearing the Club’s number six jersey in Round 1 against the Sydney Roosters, with Luke Keary currently serving a suspension that will see the pivot miss the first game of the season.
Walker enjoyed an MVP season for the North Sydney Bears in the NSW Cup in 2015 – Walker sparking a mid-season revival for the north-siders with his combination of unpredictability, speed and pin-point kicking.
The Rabbitoh enjoyed a solid pre-season trial period for the Club, playing at the Nines, the Charity Shield and the Gold Coast trial where he showed flashes of brilliance.