South Sydney Rabbitohs 2017 Season in Review
Last season was a forgettable one for Rabbitohs fans but a fit-again Greg Inglis and Test back Dane Gagai will bolster a team that is also strengthened by having blooded so many young players in 2017.
Those names – think Cam Murray, Tyrell Fuimaono, Braidon Burns and Siosifa Talakai – will be better for the run and provide competition to established players.
The big question is at No.9 given new coach Anthony Seibold's preference for an 80-minute hooker while Cody Walker should flourish in the security of the No.6 jersey given Inglis's return at the back.
Left centre and wing are wide open with Fuimaono, Burns, Hymel Hunt, Robert Jennings, Jacob Gagan, Campbell Graham, Adam Doueihi and Richard Kennar just some of the candidates pushing for spots on that edge.
A mooted switch to the second row for Sam Burgess could open the way for Cam Murray to establish himself as a regular starting lock.
NRL.com expert Jamie Soward says:
"Rob Jennings might get a spot on the wing for Braidon Burns. They never got that right winger quite right this year, they kept chopping and changing. Fuimaono is probably a back-rower but he seemed to find a spot in the centres.
"Damien Cook is under a lot of pressure to play 80 minutes and keep that quality. I don't know if it was right last year, I don't know if it was wrong either but they played two hookers at times. Cook is so fast and plays 13 for 10 or 15 minutes and really changed the tempo of the game.
"Souths were at their best when Issac Luke was playing 80 minutes and bringing the forwards onto the ball. Cook does that. He's still learning the game, he's still relatively young in terms of his first-grade career. I think Cook probably has the edge at the moment being a bit younger but he's going to have Farah breathing down his neck all year.
"Their back line will all depend on how Greg Inglis is. You might find he goes to centres, Fuimaono to back row and push Sutton or even Crichton back to the bench given what's happened (with Crichton signing for Roosters). Gagai or even Alex Johnston would have to go to fullback."
NRL.com's predicted Round 1 team:
1 Greg Inglis, 2 Alex Johnston, 3 Hymel Hunt, 4 Dane Gagai, 5 Braidon Burns, 6 Cody Walker, 7 Adam Reynolds, 8 Thomas Burgess, 9 Damien Cook, 10 Zane Musgrove, 11 Sam Burgess, 12 Angus Crichton, 13 Cameron Murray. Interchange: 14 John Sutton, 15 Kyle Turner, 16 Tyrell Fuimaono, 17 George Burgess. Reserves: 18 Robbie Farah, 19 Mark Nicholls, 20 Jason Clark, 21 Robert Jennings.