Souths in the footsteps of history
The maestro: Nathan Merritt celebrates scoring a try (AAP Image/Action Photographics, Renee Mckay)
The National Rugby League is one almightily torturous season. Each year is tougher than the last and one good season can be forgotten very quickly if things go awry.
Sustaining and improving after one impressive campaign is a test for any emerging NRL side.
South Sydney Rabbitohs coach Michael Maguire had his side rolling in 2012. But the acid test for a rookie coach is always the second season. When things are supposed to get easier, new challenges arise.
Souths have qualified for the playoffs four times since 1987. On all four occasions, the club failed to back up any momentum they had created from the previous season. They missed grand final day on all four occasions.
Granted the mighty Rabbitohs are the most successful rugby league club this country has ever seen. But modern history suggests that when things get tough, Souths falter.
Has coach Maguire instilled enough grit in this side to back up what they did in 2012?
There is a nucleus there for Souths to build on. A talented group other players will follow.
But, as has been the success of this club since 1908 and its eventual decline, there will always be question marks hovering over the cardinal red and myrtle green. That’s until they start making the playoffs on a frequent basis.
Expectations continually brew at Redfern.
At the beginning of the 2012 season, the pressure was on John Sutton to step up and help rookie halfback Adam Reynolds.
A funny thing happened though. It was Reynolds who relieved the pressure on Sutton. The combination grew and the Rabbitohs were off and running.
There are no guarantees in the NRL, but sooner or later, things will get tough for Reynolds. Sutton’s leadership and talent will truly be tested at this time.
The Rabbitohs have a terrifying pack under the strict rule of Sam Burgess and Isaac Luke – two men who lead from the front like the world depends on it.
Then there are two words which strike fear into all opponents. Greg Inglis.
Everything points to a new age of success for a team that once boasted the likes of Clive Churchill and John Sattler.
“I want to win a grand final,” Michael Crocker told The Daily Telegraph in late November.
“I think that’s why everyone plays.
“You don’t want to come into a season not wanting to win the premiership.
“We’ve got a really good club here and a really good group of guys.
“So that’ll be our goal as I’m sure it will for most of the other clubs.”
Time will tell if the expectations of a giant fan-base and a little thing called history are too much to handle.
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