Round 1: South Sydney versus New Zealand
Wow, what an off season. It had everything you could imagine. We haven’t experienced one as crazy as this for a long time. From the hatchet job on Madge to Crichton signing elsewhere and then having a finger removed to where will GI play? Let’s not forget the continuation of Coke or Pepsi? Compare that to a club like Canberra or Wests that have flown under the radar.
Check out the Rabbitohs team lineup.
The Outsider’s Fearless Five
Seibold’s no relief teacher
The first two trials are done and dusted and Anthony Seibold goes through unscathed.
Seibold reminded us all off season that he has been a fulltime coach for 10 years and is from a teaching background. A lot of school teachers end up as first grade coaches and they are a bit hit and miss. The likes of Michael Maguire and Warren Ryan tasted premiership success whilst the likes of Brian Smith and Daniel Anderson always fell short.
Seibold promises to deliver a new playing style with more attack and a more relaxed approach to preparation.
Seibold’s biggest challenge this weekend is to not get carried away. He needs to back his players, no matter the result. It is only early days with combinations still forming so take this game with a grain of salt. I am not a fan of tinkering with sides especially this early in the season.
Out with the old, in with the new
No surprises with this weekend’s selections. The Coach Potatoes may be a bit rattled as their predicted lineup for Round 1 2018. that was drafted back in Round 19 2017. is way off the mark.
It’s third time lucky for Cook as he is finally starting hooker for the season opener. We are expecting Cook to play 80 minutes each game. This lets Souths select two props and two backrowers on the bench. A massive advantage in the eight interchange era.
There are no more excuses for Cook. He’s got his Round 1 starting spot, there’s no second hooker sharing minutes with him and there’s a new coach. All the conspiracy theories go out the window. For our attack to go well, Cook must be on his game as the trials showed that we are basing our attack off his movement with the ball.
Junior Tatola could be the signing of the year if he performs as good as he did in the trials. It is always tough for rookie props to find their feet in first grade, so give him time. I’m expecting a solid 25 minute hit out from him.
Alex Johnston is starting the season off with 1 on his back. We saw a more matured AJ this preseason and here’s hoping that he takes his trial form into the regular season. He is nursing some damaged Bryce Gibbs though so it’s an effort to even get on the field. I am looking for a lot of support play from AJ especially off the back of Cook and Walker.
Gagai and Inglis at the Rabbitohs and in the centres, somebody pinch me! Let’s hope that this is the kick start that we need on our edges. If all things go to plan then look out!
Some notable omissions include Robbie Farah, Zane Musgrove, Jason Clark and Kyle Turner. They now have the opportunity to work their way back into the 17.
Feel the pressure
Adam Reynolds and Cody Walker had no pressure last season with John Sutton being the only genuine contender for the 6 or 7. Adam Doueihi and Connor Tracey showed in the trials that the threat is real.
The engine room went from a Nokia 3310 to an iPhone X with the arrival of two new props, Mark Nicholls and Tevita Tatola. The two bookends proved that gone are the days of Souths turning small backrowers into battering rams. This is the wake up call that Zane Musgrove and George Burgess need.
We are playing at the new Perth Stadium. There’ll be a large crowd and a different type of arena that we are used to. New Zealand has a large supporter base of ex-pats over there so the sooner we shut them out of the game the better.
The thing about New Zealand is that it is hard to prepare against them. They can be rocks or diamonds but when they are diamonds, look out. Our defence needs to be solid with lots of talk. Shutting down second phase play is a must. In the past, the five hour time difference has taken its toll on New Zealand. This year they travelled up on Monday so it will not be an issue.
New Zealand are missing Simon Mannering which is a big loss but Shaun Johnson, Issac Luke and Roger Tuivasa-Sheck will be firing. New Zealand have plenty of points in them.
One of the main criticisms about Michael Maguire was that he is a hard taskmaster who is too strict on his players. Anthony Seibold has been heralded this offseason as that cool uncle we all have. You know the one that lets you order pizza and watch Netflix instead of doing homework.
Maguire had the inner sanctum on lockdown. What goes on downstairs at Redfern, stays there. If you have been told to do something, at training or on the field, and you don’t then you’ll be running out for Fake Souths.
Madge wasn’t scared of anyone, he dropped the biggest of names like Issac Luke and George Burgess for not holding their end of the bargain. He even tore Sam Burgess a new one but that’s a story for another day.
When Souths were winning, Madge’s discipline was praised by the faithful. Even Russell Crowe made a tongue in cheek comment after the 2014 Grand Final to Andrew Johns that Madge will cut celebrations short and focus on 2015.
Seibold’s relaxed approach has the players all smiles at training. Instagram has been full of videos this preseason of the players ribbing each other. In particular Adam Reynolds targeting Doueihi, Britt, Gagai and whoever else is within the vicinity.
I know that it is only the trials but our discipline was pathetic. We need to improve this. If the drop in discipline is due to Seibold’s relaxed approach then he needs to rethink this. As it was Maguire’s discipline that got us from being competitive to dominant.
Anyway, a ball hasn’t been kicked yet so I will give Seibold the benefit of the doubt with discipline as it was only the trials. I will still be keeping an eye on this throughout the season.
The Outsider’s prediction
New Zealand will definitely test us. Our defence out wide will make or break this game. We have them covered in the forwards but it is the speed of the backs that may trouble us. Looking for big performances by Damien Cook, Sam Burgess and Adam Reynolds to get us home.
Wherever you’re watching the game, I hope you have a good one. I’ll be back after the game to give you my verdict.
Mighty Souths presents Playing for Points
Souths are playing in four big games this Saturday. Make sure that you visit our Match Centre for all the venue details, team lineups, late mail and progress scores.