Throughout the course of their near 114-year history, the South Sydney Rabbitohs have become renowned for a multitude of reasons.
The club once dubbed the 'Pride of the League' are both famed for having won the most premierships in the competition with 21 and also for their rich record of producing talent that has seen some of the game's greatest ever names wear cardinal and myrtle jerseys.
Still, if it wasn't for the perpetual nourishment of their juniors competition, and the many sterling kids that have cut their teeth across playing paddocks from Mascot to La Perouse, there is no telling how different both the past and the present would appear.
According to a Wednesday morning report from The Daily Telegraph's Dean Ritchie, Souths Juniors have tipped in upwards of $2 million to their local competition this season and have committed more than $100 million since their formation in 1957.
Though many names have made the grade due to this financing, the devotion has paid dividends again this year, as current Souths stars Adam Reynolds, Cameron Murray, Keaon Koloamatangi, Campbell Graham, Alex Johnston and Blake Taaffe have all risen from grassroots programs to the Grand Final in 2021.
Speaking ahead of the club's 35th decider this Sunday, Souths Juniors President Keith McCraw explained that his collective's efforts meant that all youngsters in the area could realistically dream of following in the aforementioned sextet's footsteps.
“Since the foundation of the club, I’d suggest comfortably $100m that has been put into the propagation of junior rugby league,” McCraw told Ritchie.
"We put in north of $2m a year.
“We cover shorts, socks, jumpers, insurance, we accredit their coaches and officials, we pay the rental, we pay the rental for the lighting at their grounds, we pay for the referees’ fees and give grants to the clubs. We pay everything.
“That’s what the club was built for – to propagate junior rugby league."
While other program's initiatives may be reliant on parents paying fees to see their children learn the code, Souths' equitable beliefs mean that irrespective of their backgrounds, no kid is ever left behind.
“We have some housing estates out here and not everyone can afford to have their kids playing sport. Every kid runs out equal, whether their dad is a doctor or unemployed," McCraw continued.
“I’ve seen those six kids come through from nappy grade. We gave them their start and they have never forgotten where they came from. It’s wonderful.”
Bunnies' CEO Blake Solly championed the work of McCraw's group when speaking to Ritchie and emphatically stated that the Rabbits always ran truest when their own people were pulling on their jersey.
“Souths has always been at their strongest when there is a core group of juniors in our side," he explained.
"We had five in our top 17 for the 2014 grand final and it’s wonderful to now have six in 2021."
Having been a schoolboy the last time the self-titled 'Oldest, Proudest and Loudest' side reigned supreme, Campbell Graham explained that his roots in the area had made him even keener to deliver it rewards this weekend.
“Souths Juniors are so invested in developing their players and this would be the ultimate repayment, to win a premiership for the club,” the Coogee and Maroubra product explained to The Daily Telegraph.
“It’s just another reason why I want to bring the trophy home."
Despite wider Sydney still being locked down ahead of the season's decider, the 22-year-old revealed that mood around Redfern was still at fever pitch.
“I was talking to Cameron Murray the other day about how good the buzz and atmosphere would be around the place this week," Graham continued.
“We are getting videos and messages from people I grew up with saying how excited they are, given it’s a tough time in lockdown back in Sydney.
“This has given them something to smile about which is a great feeling. You know how much the community is invested in the club.
“To hopefully be part of that successful history would be unreal. And there are five other boys who have taken a very similar pathway to me.”
Graham and his mates from the neighborhood will take on Penrith this Sunday for the chance to bring home South Sydney's 22nd premiership.