With the showcase of the young talent, here are some of the key talking points from our first trial game of 2022 against the North Queensland Cowboys.
Fresh off an 18-minute stint for the Indigenous All Stars, all eyes were on Shaquai Mitchell in the Rabbitohs first hit out of the season. The 25-year-old dropped 30 kilograms in his quest to play first grade footy and it didn’t go unnoticed against the Cowboys in last night’s trial. Starting at prop, Shaq ran for 113 metres from 10 carries and made 17 tackles. An effort that could set up a family affair and a lifelong dream to play NRL alongside brother Latrell in next week’s traditional Charity Shield in Mudgee. History shows when the duo come together, so too do the results… they won an SG Ball premiership together in 2014.
Gagai Take Two?
We all know filling the void of the electric Dane Gagai is no easy task. The Maroons centre returned to the Knights after four seasons as a Rabbitoh, leaving new first grade coach Jason Demetriou with big shoes to fill. But who better to take the reins than his younger brother Jacob? The 26-year-old made an encouraging push for first grade minutes after producing a try assist, two tackle busts, two line break assists and 82 metres from nine runs in the Rabbitohs trial against North Queensland.
But he’ll have to do more than just that if he’s going to take precedence over likely replacement Jaxson Paulo. The up and coming back finished with 31 metres from four runs and had two errors.
Predominantly a fullback Gagai also conceded two errors and three missed tackles but the Mackay local was praised for his overall performance.
But it was another versatile outside back who caught Demetriou’s attention. Former New Zealand Warriors junior Josiah Karapani made the most ground across the 90-minute match. Running for 157 metres from 15 runs.
While he wasn’t on the field for long, Peter Mamouzelos made his minutes count. He made 27 tackles before a head knock forced him off the field four minutes before half time. The youngster has impressed at hooker in the Rabbitohs Jersey Flegg side - scoring eight tries in 25 games in the red and green. He made his first-grade debut last season and has since impressed in brief stints at the top level. Some of those also came on the international stage with the hooker representing Greece in seven matches including World Cup qualifiers. The 21-year-old is shaping up as Damien Cook’s deputy after extending his tenure at South Sydney until at least the end of the 2024 season.
The Rabbitohs also invested in young prop Davvy Moale and after last night’s effort it’s obvious why. At just 18 years old the forward stands 186 centimetres tall and weighs 112 kilograms. Moale made 135 metres from 16 runs to be the only other prop alongside teammate Shaq Mitchell to run for more than 100 metres in last night’s trial. He also topped the tackle count with 36 - five more than Cowboy Jayden Hodges. Moale has been training with the NRL squad in 2021 and has re-signed until the end of the 2023 season.