Rabbitohs Head Coach Michael Maguire expressed his pride in stand-in captain John Sutton who returned early from injury to lead the team on Friday night, as team looks towards what it needs to correct before taking on the Penrith Panthers at Pepper Stadium this Friday.

Sutton, who ruptured his pectoral muscle in the round one clash with the Roosters, returned to action after 15 weeks on the sideline.

Sutton returned in the second row, running for 124 metres and making in 21 tackles in his comeback match.

Maguire has seen the work Sutton has put into his rehabilitation program for his injury, and was pleased with his output.

“I was pretty proud of John actually. He came back a little early and he came back and performed quite well, actually, very well for the team,” Maguire said.

“His presence in the team was definitely shown out there.

“We’ve just got to make sure that everyone else is lifting their game, the same as John was able to find today.”

The lift the Coach is looking for starts with an 80 minute performance.

“If we choose to do that for an 80 minute period, there’s a lot of good things in what we’re doing, but you’ve got to do that for an 80 minute game,” Maguire said.

“That’s what you get selected to do in the NRL, if you want to be successful in this game.

“It’s quite simple.”

With the Rabbitohs and Panthers both placed outside of the top eight, Friday night’s game will be a chance for the men in red and green to progress up the ladder, however Maguire says ladder position is not a focus for his team.

“I’m not even looking at the ladder, to be honest,” Maguire said.

“We’ve got to get the things that I’ve been speaking about for a couple of weeks now right, and if we choose to do that then the ladder will sort itself out.

“We’re in a situation where, individually and as a team, we have to have a look at the areas of the game that we want to do right consistently for an 80 minute period.

“We spoke about it. It’s quite simple.”

The Rabbitohs will head to the foot of the mountains on Friday to take on the Penrith Panthers at Pepper Stadium at 7:50pm.