Team Effort Rejuvenating Rabbitohs
While South Sydney winger Alex Johnston stole the headlines with five tries on the weekend, teammates are viewing the performance against the Panthers in a different light.
Rabbitohs back-rower Angus Crichton was the man of the moment himself with a hat-trick of tries back in Round 15 but believes the Bunnies' burst of form in recent weeks is on the back of a collective team effort, and one that is driving the side at the backend of the season.
Michael Maguire has persisted with keeping Cody Walker in the No.1 jersey with Johnston remaining on the wing, while young back-rower Tyrell Fuimaono has been preferred in the starting side with veteran John Sutton moving into the halves.
Back-rower Robbie Rochow has since moved to Melbourne for further opportunity.
"At the end of the day the players that score the tries might get the headlines, accolades or media attention, but it's really about the build-up to the tries that we take pride in," Crichton said on Tuesday
"AJ put the ball over the line last week and I did a couple of weeks ago but it wasn't just us but rather a team effort that got us there.
"That's the exciting footy that everyone likes to watch and the reason why we play the game and the fans love the sport so if can keep that brand of footy."
Despite cementing a position in Maguire's starting side and being arguably the club's best performer in an inconsistent season, the 21-year-old admits there were still facets of his own game that needed work.
"When I first came into the scene I was fresh out of school and did two pre-seasons and didn't know what I was doing, coming from rugby union," Crichton said.
"I've only played league for two years and I've still got a whole heap to learn. Like any young teenager you just want to impress but now I've learnt a lot of technique and more about the game and have become a lot smarter.
"It comes with experience and playing games back to back. I'm feeling comfortable with the senior players around me."
With seven tries in the Telstra Premiership in his last eight appearances, Crichton is confident he will take the field on Friday night against the Roosters despite nursing an ankle injury.
The Young Cherrypickers junior was in a moonboot on Tuesday but insisted it was all for precautionary reasons.
"[The foot] is not too bad, we are stabilising it to make sure I'm right for Friday's game," he said.
After the Roosters edged the Rabbitohs back in Round 4, Maguire's side has a chance to keep the roll on going – particularly with the Tricolours missing key men in skipper Boyd Cordner, Mitchell Pearce, Dylan Napa and Blake Ferguson through Origin duty.
South Sydney will remain at near full strength for the encounter but Crichton believes their arch rivals remain dangerous regardless of the key personnel missing from their line-up.
"They're always a strong side and it doesn't matter if they're missing players or not," he said.
"They've got depth and I have a lot of good mates that play for them – Luke Keary, Connor Watson, Ryan Matterson and Joey Manu – I played a lot of them in the juniors.
"[Keary] always gets up for games and is a fiery little fella so it should be a lot of fun."