When the Wigan Warriors arrive to take on the South Sydney Rabbitohs on Saturday 17 February, it'll be only the second time an English Super League side has challenged us on home soil.
Here we take a look back at the Club's first match against a Super League club on our own turf.
Welcoming the Wire
The fourth installment of Return to Redfern saw the Rabbitohs take on their first international opponents at the hallowed Redfern Oval – the Warrington Wolves – who were on a pre-season trip through Australia for the 2012 pre-season.
While the first three ‘RTR’ matches came against opponents who had all fielded teams of rookies and fringe players, this time around the Rabbitohs’ opponents would field a full strength side for the occasion.
In a similar vein against Leeds Rhinos, the opposition had a comfortable 24-0 lead just 25 minutes into the contest. Not to disappoint the home crowd, a young Rabbitohs side, in their alternate white strip, clawed their way back to bring the scores to 28-28 with just 12 minutes left on the clock.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t to be as the Wolves sealed the win through a late Gareth O’Brien try, leaving the final score 32-28. However, the match was an overall success, with a crowd of 5,000 witnessing a highly contested game of Rugby League at the Club’s spiritual home.
The Making Of ‘Reyno’
Despite being a pre-season trial with no competition points on offer, the hit-out against Warrington would signal the emergence of rookie halfback Adam Reynolds, who kicked two 40/20s – one with his first touch of the ball. He also nailed four of five conversions in the four-point defeat.
Reynolds would go on to make his NRL debut in Round 1 of that season, and eventually play in all 27 of the Rabbitohs games of 2012, steering the Club towards its first preliminary final since 1989, while helping Souths secure their first finals win since 1987 in the process.
The young halfback was also crowned the 2012 Dally M Rookie of the Year, and found himself with 208 points to his name, scoring three tries, 97 goals and two field goals. He finished second overall in the competition for points scored.
Since then, ‘Reyno’ has become the Rabbitohs’ on-field general, playing 134 games for the Club, earning two appearances for NSW City Origin and playing two Holden State of Origin matches for New South Wales.
Of course, Reynolds playing an integral part of the Rabbitohs Premiership winning squad in 2014. He also was prominent in the Club’s World Club Challenge victory over St. Helens, and was named the Auckland Nines Most Valuable Player in the Club’s tournament triumph in 2015.
After Reynolds’ career-defining match against Warrington on that sunny February afternoon, we may just see the next Rabbitohs sensation take part in the clash against Wigan this February.
A Learning Curve
Rabbitohs Media and Communications Manager Jeremy Monahan recalled the trial as a big learning experience for, not only the young playing group, but also for then-coach Michael Maguire, who was in his first season at the helm for the Club.
“It was Michael Maguire’s first game in charge of Souths after coming from Wigan and, I remember in the lead-up, the talk was that we were going to play a lot of our younger players and our fringe players and give them a chance,” he said.
“Those games at Redfern Oval were great with a packed house of over 5000 people there.”Rabbitohs Media and Communications Manager Jeremy Monahan
“Come three-quarter time I think we were behind a try or two, and on went all our top players, because he didn’t want to lose against Warrington after coming from Wigan, who are huge rivals in the Super League.
“It was a great experience too, we had Matt King join the Club just after leaving Warrington, and the fans who had flown over were absolutely giving it to him!