during the round one NRL match between the South Sydney Rabbitohs and the Wests Tigers at ANZ Stadium on March 3, 2017 in Sydney, Australia.

2017 Season Review: South Sydney Rabbitohs

Predicted Finish: 11th

Actual Finish: 12th

Best Performer: Angus Crichton

In a season where there weren’t a long list of highlights for fans wearing red and green, young Angus Crichton announced himself in a huge way. The future rep forward burst onto the scenes with a series of standout performances. Playing 22 games he scored seven tries, including a memorable hat-trick against the Titans in round 15.

He also made 10 line breaks, although it felt as though he was breaking the line with every run such was the force he ran with. At only 21 years of age, it is scary to think just how good the back rower will be. The Bunnies have a huge fight on their hands to keep a hold of their young gun with the Roosters and Sharks circling.

Season Highlight: 38-18 win in Round 2 over Manly

Best Signing: Dane Gagai

The Bunnies really needed to sign a marquee name after a horror season. In Gagai they got their man. The Queensland and Kangaroos star will slot straight into the centres at his new club and I’m very confident in saying the move will prove to be a positive for both player and club. Gagai struggled in Newcastle after being shifted across the backline as the Knights struggled for form combinations.

The over-reliance on the rep back also saw his performances affected. Now playing off the likes of Walker and Reynolds, and behind the likes of Burgess and Crichton, we should see plenty out of the centre in the coming years. Souths need a try-scoring outside back to help take the pressure off Johnston and Inglis. Gagai is exactly what the doctor ordered.

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Positives

Inglis given time to heal physically and mentally: When Greg Inglis went down in the very first game of the season, a fair few pundits immediately wrote the Bunnies off. As strange as this is going to sound, it is arguable that the injury will turn out to be a positive for Inglis and therefore the club. It is reported that he had been playing injured for a few seasons now after staring at all levels of the game. His body finally gave in and he has taken a full season to rest it. The time off also allowed him the time to focus on his mental health after admitting to be struggling. Hopefully, Inglis returns in 2017 fresh of both body and mind. He deserves it.

Big Wins: Although the Bunnies never really factored in the final’s race, they did have some serious highlights in 2017. A 42-16 win over the Panthers goes to show that when this team clicks that they were very capable. They also recorded a 28-8 win over the Tigers, beat the Warriors 38-16 and thumped Manly at Lotto Land as mentioned above. It is just a shame that the Bunnies couldn’t replicate these kinds of performances with any regularity because, on their day, they’re really tough to beat.

New Direction: Despite some big wins, ultimately the Rabbits had a sad season. They struggled to keep pace with the big guns and thus dropped out of the finals race with weeks to run. Since their drought-breaking title win they have regressed in a big way. The over-reliance on Inglis and the Burgess brothers has been exposed, while Cody Walker suffered from playing multiple positions across the space of a month. Simply put, the Bunnies needed a change in direction. Title-winning coach Michael Maguire has moved on and Anthony Seibold has been named as his replacement. He is largely untested as a coach but comes with big wraps. The Bunnies needed someone with fresh ideas, and Siebold should provide that. A few clever signings haven’t hurt either.

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Season Grading: D

Although the Bunnies only finished one place lower than I predicted, I still can’t help but think they underachieved. Burgess, Farah, Reynolds, Walker, Johnston. Teams containing that kind of talent should be in the finals race.

A season-ending injury to Inglis completely reshaped the season, but even so, 12th just isn’t good enough.

An F grading would have been too harsh considering the circumstances, but I don’t know too many Bunnies fans who were too happy with the performances across 26 rounds.

I am shocked, that just a few years after the greatest moment in the modern history of the club, Michael McGuire is no longer the coach of the famous club. Given that the news was greeted with such joy by fans on social media really highlights the state of the club though.

There’s a sense of a fresh start in 2018 with a new coach, a marquee signing, a young superstar and a refreshed Greg Inglis. Probably a good thing too, because there aren’t too many moments from 2017 that will want to live too long in the memories of Bunnies fans.

41 COMMENTS

  1. I pretty much agree with the summary, especially needing new ideas. One of Souths greatest challenges for the future is keeping young promising talent from the clutches of success hungry clubs that don’t develop their own players.

    I know that a lot of clubs say they are just playing by the rules when signing players from other clubs, but that is not helping the game grow. Souths signed Gaigai from Newcastle because after five years he wanted to leave, they didn’t poach him.

    Anyway, all the Souths tragics, and I am one, have hope for 2018. Glory Glory.

    • “Souths signed Gaigai from Newcastle because after five years he wanted to leave”

      More than that, Gaigai said he never received an offer from the Knights. He said that he was expecting to receive an offer for a contract extension but instead saw money being spent all around him on recruiting new talent. I remember reading that he said he felt unwanted and I think he said Brown gave him the OK to look elsewhere. He was never told he was not wanted though but tge Knights priorities were clearly lying elsewhere.

        • Gentlemen, is this a “we didn’t pouch Gaigai, so don’t (anyone) pouch Crichton”, or a bigger “we don’t pouch players, so don’t pouch us” call?

          Either way it does read a little defensive, yet no one has provoked you. Are we getting a little touchy?

        • See where trying to be nice gets you chalky? Everyone suspects an ulterior motive. mighty, does chalky strike you as a “you don’t touch mine and I won’t touch yours” kind of guy? On second thoughts, scratch that, that sounds creepy!

          I am sure chalky wasn’t trying to suggest that Crichton is off limits to any club (SSTID: except the Roosters, Sea Eagles and Broncos – ah, thank you!) chalky has even said if Crichton wants to go, let him go. Souths only want to keep players that want to play for the club because of their passion. Me on the other hand, I believe if passion can be bought then buy it or at the very least chain Angus to the goal posts at Redfern oval and have Reggie the Rabbit (the NEW one) stand guard over him day and night. I would be prepared to turn this into a hostage situation, THAT is how badly I want Souths to keep Crichton at the club.

          As for “pouching players” is that only referring to Kangaroos like Cronk? Crichton has not played for Australia so we can only poach him, sunny side up! Bahahahahahahahaha

          Yeah, I know billy “pot? kettle? black? Anyone?”

        • But in fairness SSTID, I wasn’t having a dig, it was more of an observation that you both seemed a little defensive, and as per my comments, and I was surprised. It was a little unusual, that’s all. I didn’t have a crack, but (and in jest) is there a subliminal message.

        • mighty, I may be a bunny, but I’m NOT soft and I am too big to fit under your microscope in any case. I was just reminding chalky Souths didn’t poach Gaigai but if we had both chalky and I know it is part of the game. Except Crichton, I’ve got him locked up and in a safe place not far from Redfern oval. πŸ˜‰

        • SSTID, you obviously rate Crichton highly, and I understand that, so what do you think he’s worth?

          If you had to sign him on a 3 year deal now, and obviously there is a lot of completion, how high would you go?

          This is not about having a dig, or playing silly buggers, but I’m genuinely interested in how you would value him.

        • Souths should pay up to $800K – $850K IMO, not on potential but on his performance in 2017. He truly is a rare talent for a back rower who can also cover the centre. Angus out performed Sam Burgess this year in his attacking impact and only looked like he was in second gear.

          If the Roosters sign him I think he will be good but not great. I think he has players around him ATM that he trusts and that are bringing the best out in him Surgess, Inglis, Reynolds and Johnstone.

          I agree it is a risk and he has not put 2 good seasons together yet back to back, but I genuinely see him as the “Bob McCarthy” of his generation. If he goes to the Roosters I fear he will do a “Chris Sandow” and end up going back to union. Souths will stick by him if he is struggling with form or injury while the Roosters are only interested in success at all costs even over loyalry. Just ask Mitchell Pearce and Jake Friend (their club captain) who got “shopped around”.

          The Roosters are a treacherous unforgiving club who value success over loyalty and dollars overs persevering with their own.

          If the Roosters do sign Crichton then the NRL really do need to do a thorough audit of the chooks salary cap pure and simple.

          Talk about market value, just count the rep players in their team and after $1 mill contracts to Tedesco and Cronk, a $2 mill deal for Keary and Friend and Cordner yet to re-sign the Roosters are kidding themselves if they really believe they are still under the cap. Tell me how they can sign sign Tupou for only $250K given he is a rep player? It all stinks lije “dynamic lifter” (chicken manure)

        • Yep, that all makes sense. I also thought $800k would be that number, and he’d get it, but as per a post from the other day, I wouldn’t pay it, but that in itself is it’s own risk (being too cautious / conservative). P

          As for the salary cap, and as per my post on the other article, and unfortunately / tragically, you could have a national rep side and still be within the salary cap if those players are “topped up” by TPA’s. That’s a / the problem.

          On the plus side, and at least until that changes, those of us (yes US) that support teams not heavily advantaged by TPA’s can be proud of the fact that we are genuinely loyal to the team, and can’t be accused of being “fair weather supporters”. You’ve done your time (40 years between drinks), and we (Parra) have to wait yet another year or two.

        • Whose John stone? Alex Johnston. That’s it! I’m having a thumb reduction over Christmas. I need little “Reggie the Rabbit” thumbs to type on my phone keypad. FTS will soon stand for Free of Thumb Stress! πŸ˜‰

        • Too bad you got yourself punted 🎩🎩🎩 oh how you must have been banging your little head against a wall dying to point THAT one out. I bet you are gnawing away on your little carrot “Reggie” while you having your Steggles hormone injections. Do you have a beak and “giblets” already Rooster boy? Bahahahahaha πŸ˜‚

        • Who is John Stone… AC you’re killing me! Never correct me in the middle of a punchline. Don’t start me AC DON’T start me!

        • “those of us… that support teams not heavily advantaged by TPA’s can be proud of the fact that we are genuinely loyal to the team, and can’t be accused of being β€œfair weather supporters”.”

          I wonder just how full Suncorp stadium would be if the Broncos had swapped places with the Knights over the last 3 years? Likewise with Roosters and Sea Eagles supporters who don’t like to leave their own postcode to watch a game. I hear the view is much better from “the Lyon’s Den” in any case. πŸ˜‰

  2. Our season will depend on the performances of the twins, if they aim up strong and hold the ball, we will cause some serious problems for other teams, if not, it could be another long season, it will be interesting to see how our new coach goes with the cattle he has, hopefully can create a new style, to be honest i just don’t know what 2018 will offer us , but that being said, trying to pick the 8 this year will be very difficult all teams look strong, how many sleeps till this thing starts? bring it on.

    • I think you nailed it re your call on the twins. Tom was bouncing the ball like he was playing AFL in at least 1 of his WC games, and if the Burgess twins can’t do their jobs, well they’re the “baggage brothers”, and you’re in for a long season.

    • penso, if the Rabbitohs 2018 season rests on the indifferent form of the Burgii twins, “floppsy and droppsy”, then we are in for a LONG sad season ahead. I prefer to look at the positives. There are many very talented young players coming through and GI will be fully fit and champing at the bit for a start. Gaigai will be pumped and Sam Burgess will be in for a big start to the year following the heart break and disappointment of the 2017 WC. George Burgess should also be primed after having missed out on the WC for England I can imagine that he will have a point to prove.

      A new coach brings fresh ideas and a different approach and energy to the side. As well as that Cody Walker will be set in the halves with Adam Reynolds and “hopefully” rediscovering his combination with Cook at dummy half. I prefer to be an optimist and believe that Crichton will re-sign with Souths and I think the Rabbitohs have the perfect blend of youth and experience. They just had a horror start to 2018 losing their skipper and star player “effectively” after the first 8 mins of their season.

      I just hope that the new coach is prepared to give younger players ago if “the usual suspects” struggle early on.

      Keep the faith penso. Like chalky says, “all the Souths tragics… have hope for 2018. Glory Glory.”

      • Its just that we don’t really have that strong / big front rower other than the twins players who Souths have gambled on to move us forward and if they cannot perform we may struggle, look at how Easts forwards were against the Cowboys in that semi, they were terrible and that made Pearce’s role much harder.

        • I know mate but as my old coach used to say “you can’t put brains into statues.” The twins would look better in bronze than on a football field in their current form. If they can’t or won’t learn other younger, hungrier kids will take their place. 2018 is make or break for both Burgii IMO.

          Yes Souths need the size up front but not sacrificing consistency, possession and field position for. How hard is it to play the ball and hold onto it in a tackle? Have these basic skill requirements changed in recent years?

          Personally I don’t want to split the Burgess clan up but I would rather Souths played with a smaller more mobile front row if they were more consistent and committed.

  3. Former referee Luke Phillips takes swipe at Tony Archer, Michael Maguire appointed referees’ coach

    “PREMIERSHIP-WINNING former Rabbitohs coach Michael Maguire is set to join the NRL’s referee team in a consultancy role.”

    β€œHopefully he has the balls to stand up to Archer, (Bernard) Sutton and (Russell) Smith or nothing will change,” Phillips tweeted.

    https://www.foxsports.com.au/nrl/nrl-premiership/former-referee-luke-phillips-takes-swipe-at-tony-archer-michael-maguire-appointed-referees-coach/news-story/55a858e1d9a53eecf5e2c2cdb6370674

  4. Maguire will be good there, but there must be some issues with the refs, Phillips makes some serious claims and if true Maguire has his hands full , hopefully he makes a difference , but one thing , they’ll be fit.

    • And disciplined all preaching the “We aren’t getting ahead of ourselves. We are taking one game at a time” mantra. πŸ˜‰

      Let’s hope that Madge can being both common sense, consistency and accountabilty to the “whistle blowers”.

      • Confucius say man with big mouth one day swallow pride πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚

        • πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚
          Confucius didn’t say such s thing , I made it up πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚
          Blind man using IPh is 100% true , and selling calanders πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚

        • Yes I DID realise that was a counterfeit Confucius quote. Your tactic of catching an opponent off guard was more typical of Sun Tzu than Confucius in any case but worthy of tge points on this occaision. πŸ˜‰

        • The Art of War
          Was given a beautifully illustrated volume of this very useful β€œguide β€œ πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚
          Well versed you are SSTID

  5. Ha – love the friendly banter! For me, the killer for Souths was signing Farah. I know his stats were pretty good for the season, and he did nothing wrong – but signing any player that has been so strongly linked and passionate about their previous/original club is a risk – particularly in the later stages of their careers. Farah in a souths jersey just don’t look right – and I reckon the players felt the same.

    • Totally right on that one suechi. Farah should have been a one club man. The same thing happened with Glenn Stewart. It just doesn’t work, their passion cannot be reproduced for another culture overnight. Farah still has his moments but IMO he would be better served at the Knights bringing some experience with Pearce to their spine. Robbie is just about ready for the NRL players “retirement graveyard” and a stint in the English SL to finish his career. I think Cook has to be the starting hooker/dummy half for Souths if the Rabbits are serious about making the top 8.

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