At 31, South Sydney Rabbitohs fullback Greg Inglis will be making his return from a knee reconstruction. Can he come back and be as dynamic as he was? That is the question I am sure Souths fans and fans of rugby league are asking.
Although he played only a few minutes in the Charity Shield, he looked physically ready. He has obviously made the most of his situation over the past few months. He looks the fittest and biggest of his career.
Next week will be one year on from the injury that forced him out for the 2017 season. Going into the first round, I’m sure he will be fighting mental demons about how the knee will hold up.
New South Sydney coach Anthony Siebold has many options to play Inglis’ preferred position of fullback including new signing Dane Gagai , Alex Johnson and Hymel Hunt. Allowing Inglis to return at centre to ease him back.
Last year the fullback role was shared between Johnson and five-eighth Cody Walker, both good players but neither conditioned to play fullback. Both better players in their preferred positions of five-eighth and wing respectively. The loss of Inglis’ power from the back was a big reason for their demise.
Souths season in 2017 was very poor. It started with the injury to Inglis in Round 1 and there were not many good moments from then on. The only real highlight being the emergence of Angus Crichton, who has unfortunately signed to play for arch rivals the Roosters next year.
For the Rabbitohs to become a genuine Premiership contender, their big names have to step up. They can’t rely on Sam Burgess to be a one man band as they did last year. Former NSW half back Adam Reynolds and Cody Walker have the potential to be the best halves partnership in the competition if they can remain injury free. They need to be at their best for Souths to succeed.
For Inglis, the 243 game veteran, it may take until mid to late season until we get to see the best of him. Therefore it is paramount the rookie coach Siebold can keep Souths in touch with the Top 8. At his best, Greg Inglis can destroy opposition defences. His strong frame, speed and fend can make the best of defenders look foolish. His desire to win and on field leadership was sorely missed in 2017. If Souths can gather some momentum and with a fit Inglis anything is possible.
It will be exciting to see Souths play this year. With Walker, Gagai and Inglis, they have players who can produce individual brilliance. Sam Burgess and Angus Critchton will also provide excitement with their running and ball play.
If all the elements can come together, Souths have a good team that can challenge. With Inglis back and Gagai joining they have more options in attack. Add in their forward power and Souths will have no excuses for another poor season.
Let’s all hope that Greg Inglis can get through the season without any further problems with his knee. Rugby league is a better game when he is playing.
What impact will Greg Inglis have on the competition?