The South Sydney Rabbitohs are only one win away from a Jersey Flegg premiership – something that hasn’t been achieved by the Pride of the League in 41 years.
Similarly to First Grade, they’ll be squaring up against the Canberra Raiders this week, in what’s sure to be an exciting brand of Rugby League.
It’s been a gutsy campaign for the Jersey Flegg Rabbitohs after Head Coach, Ben Rogers, was appointed the task of putting together a team back in October of last year.
The Under 20s had not sported a side since the National Youth Competition concluded in 2017, which called for a rebuild and scout for fresh talent.
While Rogers isn’t surprised to be in the position they’re in, he confesses it was “all about the unknown” when initially putting a group of players on the field, who for the most part, had never played together.
“We’ve picked the right players in the right positions and worked through combinations over the course of the season,” he said.
“Their talent got them in the conversation to begin with, but the fact they’re all good young men, who are willing to learn and work for each other is probably why we find ourselves here.”
While the Rabbitohs finished fifth at the end of the regular season, a couple of big wins including knocking-off minor premiers, Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks in extra time, plus punching well above their weight against Penrith on Sunday, has booked their spot in the big dance.
Rogers has noticed an improvement by his side during this period.
“It’s pleasing to see us play to our potential, particularly in the games that count,” he said.
“Consistency is key in this competition and we’ve taken our chances in the crucial moments. Our defence has led the way.”
One would assume the challenge for those coaching young men would be managing their player’s emotions for these occasions. However, Rogers says his team is both relaxed and focused on the job at hand.
“Not much changes for our preparation this week,” he said.
“We understand grand finals don’t come around too often, but the boys know it’s just another game of footy.”
While the Rabbitohs defeated the Raiders 28-12 in their last encounter back in Round 15, Coach Rogers is not reflecting too much on that impressive performance.
“A lot has changed between then and now,” he said.
“They [Raiders] have a quality side led by their exciting backline and we’ll have to be on our game, playing the footy we know works for us, to come away with the victory.”
Date: Sunday 29 September
Time: 12:30pm kick-off
Location: Bankwest Stadium
Opposition: Canberra Raiders