Wayne Bennett’s media masterclass
Joking with journos and a sly dig at rival coach Anthony Seibold
— FOX LEAGUE (@FOXNRL) May 1, 2019
It has been five years since the South Sydney Rabbitohs last claimed the NRL crown, with the last of their 21 triumphs in the competition coming in 2014 courtesy of a victory over Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs. Since then, the Rabbitohs have fallen short in their bid to reclaim the title, failing to reach the Grand Final.
The club endured a tumultuous off-season when they agreed to a coach swap with the Brisbane Broncos. Anthony Seibold was due to depart Sydney to move to the Broncos, with Wayne Bennett switching in the opposite direction. However, Bennett surprised his old team by announcing that he would remain in his post.
After a period of negotiation, the two coaches finally completed the transition, and in the early stages of the 2019 campaign, it appears as though the Rabbitohs have come out on top. South Sydney have made a strong start to the season, winning seven of their opening eight matches at the time of writing. Bennett’s men are backed in the rugby league betting odds at 4/1 to win the NRL Grand Final, although they will have to improve the standard of their performances in the post-season.
South Sydney were dominant in their run to the crown in 2014, brushing aside Manly-Warringah in the first round of the finals before overcoming their rivals the Roosters in the preliminary finals in a close contest. The Grand Final proved to be the easiest of all their games in the post-season, easing past the Bulldogs by a 30-6 scoreline – notching six tries in the contest to take the title.
The 2015 campaign proved to be more of a struggle. Their regular season form was indifferent, which saw the club scrape into the Finals. Michael Maguire’s men could not conjure the magic of the previous campaign and were dumped out at the first stage by Cronulla Sutherland Sharks. It would be another term of disappointment in 2016 as two losing runs of four matches condemned the Rabbitohs to miss out on the Finals, placing in 12th in the NRL standings.
Maguire’s time at the club was to end after the 2017 season where his team underachieved once again, although it was a tumultuous campaign on and off the field. Seibold was brought in to replace Maguire and he enjoyed an immediate impact, guiding South Sydney to third spot in the standings – level on points with the Roosters, Sharks and Melbourne Storm.
However, the Storm got the better of them in the first round of the Finals, forcing the Rabbitohs into a showdown with the St. George Illawarra Dragons in the semi-finals. They edged out the Dragons in a low-scoring thriller, but their offence was held in check in the preliminary finals against the Roosters, who went on to win the title.
— ANZ Stadium (@ANZStadium) May 2, 2019
There has never been a shortage of drama surrounding the Rabbitohs. After the controversy regarding Bennett’s arrival – the club then lost Greg Inglis, who announced his retirement from all rugby before week six of the campaign. However, Bennett and captain Sam Burgess have held the team together to keep pace with the Roosters at the top of the standings. Cody Walker is enjoying an excellent start to the season with nine scores, while youngster Campell Graham is a player on the rise. It could be the start of a memorable run to the Finals and most importantly the Grand Final, bringing triumph out of the chaos of the last five years.