After waiting 43 years to make a grand final, waiting just nine years since their last premiership doesn't sound too bad for the South Sydney Rabbitohs.

While after making every preliminary final since 2018 onwards, you'd think they'd be close to winning a competition, however run your eye over the team, and they're closer than you'd think.

They don't have Greg Inglis, Sam Burgess or Ben Te'o anymore, but they've got Latrell Mitchell, Cameron Murray and Jai Arrow.

Look at their coaching system, their spine, their recruitment tactics, is it just a sense of deja vu, or are the stars aligning for the cardinal and myrtle?

The recruitment
The Rabbitohs have the most settled squad in the NRL right now. They haven't recruited a single player with NRL experience for this season despite letting Mark Nicholls, Kodi Nikorima, Josh Mansour and Jaxson Paulo walk.

Instead, they're focusing on youth.

While other clubs welcome big names like Brandon Smith, Isaiah Papali'i and Viliame Kikau, the Bunnies will turn their attention to names like Josiah Karapani, Davvy Moale and Tallis Duncan.

They aren't household names, but neither were Kyle Turner and David Tyrrell when the lifted the trophy.

Heading into the 2014 season, the last time they lifted the Telstra Premiership trophy aloft, the Bunnies signed just three players with NRL experience - Joel Reddy, Lote Tuqiri and Joe Picker.

Three more than 2023.

Tuqiri played the most games of the three and was the only one to feature on grand final day, however even he spent a third of the season in NSW Cup.

Instead, four of the Rabbitohs' 17 that day debuted that season, and nine of them debuted between 2012 and 2014.

A team built on juniors, similar to Penrith today, names like Adam Reynolds, Dylan Walker, Apisai Koroisau, John Sutton and Alex Johnston.

Now they watch Blake Taaffe, Campbell Graham, Cameron Murray, Keaon Koloamatangi, and still Alex Johnston.

A settled squad goes a lot further than most imagine, being able to build on the pre-season prior instead of starting fresh.

NRL Pre-Season - Rabbitohs v Sea Eagles
GOSFORD, AUSTRALIA - FEBRUARY 10: Tallis Duncan of the Rabbitohs is tackled during the South Sydney Rabbitohs and the Manly Sea Eagles at Industree Group Stadium on February 10, 2023 in Gosford, Australia. (Photo by Jason McCawley/Getty Images)

The squad
An inspirational local back-rower captaining the side, a centre-turned-fullback bulldozer in the No. 1 jersey, a crafty five-eighth, a running hooker, an aggressive edge forward and Alex Johnston on the wing.

Doesn't this sound familiar?

Heading into 2014, you could see Greg Inglis, Sam Burgess and Issac Luke heading into their prime, and sense a premiership was almost destined for the side. It's hard to assemble such a strong squad, yet even harder to benefit down the line.

You can borderline say the same looking at the likes of Cody Walker, Damien Cook, Latrell Mitchell and Cameron Murray, the quartet are heading into their fourth season together, and all signed through to the end of 2025, they're ready to strike.

They say you've got to win one to lose one, and all bar the suspended Mitchell featured in the 2021 NRL Grand Final loss to Penrith, only making the squad hungrier.

The 2014 premiership win came on the back two consecutive preliminary finals losses, and with the current side losing four in five years, they'll be desperate to breakthrough.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - OCTOBER 05: Sam Burgess, Greg Inglis and Dylan Walker of the Rabbitohs pose with the trophy in front of the crowd after victory during the 2014 NRL Grand Final match between the South Sydney Rabbitohs and the Canterbury Bulldogs at ANZ Stadium on October 5, 2014 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

Five members of the 2021 team have departed in the form of Jaydn Su'A, Dane Gagai, Benji Marshall, Mark Nicholls and Jaxson Paulo, but with the internal talent, it shouldn't be a point of concern.

The coach
Jason Demetriou became the fourth consecutive South Sydney Rabbitohs head coach to make a preliminary final in their first season at the helm, a stat starting with the last premiership-winning coach, Michael Maguire.

Whilst 'Madge' was a student of Craig Bellamy, Demetriou hailed from the school of Wayne Bennett, though both delivered their own coaching styles.

Maguire relied on the 'bash and barge' on the back of the Burgess quartet, while Demetriou is all about the quick shift, utilising Cameron Murray's fast hands and the immense precision of their backline.

Alex Johnston scored his first NRL try in 2014. He's expected to score his 180th in 2023.

While only Johnston and Thomas Burgess remain from their premiership-winning squad, Sam Burgess has joined as an assistant coach, whilst John Sutton works with the club's juniors.

The pillars of their 21st premiership still stand tall at Redfern, even if they no longer lace their boots every weekend.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 09: Rabbitohs coach Michael Maguire speaks to players during a South Sydney Rabbitohs NRL training session at Redfern Oval on March 9, 2016 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

The verdict
The modern day Rabbitohs have a much, much tougher competition to contend with than that of 2014.

The former side, like their 2023 counterparts, had a Roosters side tipped for premiership-glory to compete with, especially on the back of the tricolours picking apart their rivals to sign a strong roster.

Now though, on top of the Roosters, South Sydney have a Penrith juggernaut labelled one of the best sides of the NRL era left to conquer.

The Panthers have eliminated the Rabbitohs in every season since they shot to the top, defeating them in two preliminary finals, as well as the 2021 decider.

However, with cracks appearing at the foot of the mountains between an exodus of players and the first ACL injury at the club in half a decade, the time to strike is now.

Melbourne are slowing down and have an injury toll of their own, the Cowboys and Sharks shot from nowhere to the top four last year, however easy draws and career-best form boosted the two. Can they repeat it?

Parramatta have lost a stack of talent and haven't replaced it, while building sides like Canterbury and the Wests Tigers have a ways to go yet.

There's no better opportunity for the Bunnies to claim their 22nd premiership than this season, and if the dominoes fall in their favour, 'Glory, Glory to South Sydney' will be playing over the Accor Stadium speakers in early October.