If there is one man who knows a lot about Rugby league, it’s Rabbitohs Player Evaluation and List Manager, Mark Ellison.
The Rabbitohs legend has been with the Club for a number of years and believes the 2018 season is building up to be one of the best seasons yet.
“The signs are good at the moment. At this stage of the season everyone comes in fresh after a break and their bodies will start to ache but it’s been a positive start,” said Ellison.
With a fresh attitude and styles being applied at training, Ellison believes that the introduction of young players and the culture at Souths is driving the team forward.
“Two of the most notable players lately are Cameron Murray and Campbell Graham, who have come through the juniors and had an immediate impact on the NRL.”
“It may have been a little early to blood them into the first team but due to the situation we were in at the time we really needed them in there and under pressure they performed really well. Their on field experience will enhance this year because of this.
“It’s also a real bonus that we have those players as an option on the field but off it too. Having them around camp really helps the other young players who didn’t grow up through the South Sydney ranks really immerse themselves in the Rabbitohs history, and as a club we’ve tried to promote that at as a genuine pathway. We’ve seen over the last few years with players like Adam Reynolds, John Sutton, Jason Clark and Alex Johnston that the system works really well.”
As a former player, Ellison knows of the rigours of preseason and with new changes to the training regime he knows the players are being put through their paces like never before.
Yet, Ellison has so far been impressed with the attitude the players have instilled into the new system with a couple of players in particular really knuckling down.
“There’s definitely been a change and with change comes difference but it’s hard to judge how the change will be until this time next year,” said Ellison.
“It’s hard to single out any in particular. All the boys have come back at a pretty good level and they’re training really well, but the likes of Damien Cook and Connor Tracey have come back and have just been the lead runners since day one.
“They’re really standing out so far.”
Being involved in the recruitment and retention committee, Ellison is also pretty keen to see some of the new boys in action as well as the return of a Rabbitohs’ favourite.
“We’ve got a couple of exciting new players, in particular Dane Gagai, and we’ve also got Greg Inglis coming back who is basically a new recruit. Those two players will give us a real spark and hopefully bring us the consistency that we need to be successful.”
With the new season still quite far away, Ellison knows that there is a lot of ground to make up before the changes implemented this year will start to take effect, but he is confident of an improved season in 2018.
“At the start of every season you’re looking for consistency and we hope for not too many injuries but we’ll only know where we are by this time next year, but the signs are good at the moment.”