The Latrell and Cook Show.
South Sydney have just about everything needed to be a premiership team. They have a master coach in Wayne Bennett and a squad full to the top in talent.
All that is missing is that X factor. A player that can consistently break a game open. Newcastle have Ponga, the Roosters have Tedesco and Souths have Latrell Mitchell and Damien Cook.
Sadly for Rabbitohs fans just as Latrell was finding his best form he went down with a season-ending injury. Although they finished 6th last season, one can’t help to wonder where they could have finished had Latrell started the season with more preparation and had not had his first year at Redfern cut short.
Latrell struggled in the opening rounds of 2020 due to a disrupted pre-season. Let’s hope for Souths and NRL fans he can put in the pre-season he will need if he is to hit the ground running.
Damien Cook is the most dangerous runner from dummy half in the game. Yet, when the rule changes were introduced after the COVID-19 break, Cook struggled when he was expected to excel.
The NSW star needs to run more. His performance in the finals prove this to be true. It is a hard balancing act and if he overplays his hand teams will learn to shut him down either legally or illegally.
His choice to run will be easy if his forwards can lay the platform. The Rabbitohs have added State of Origin and former Gold Coast Titan Jai Arrow to bolster their forward stocks.
Cameron Murray spent a lot of time as a middle forward, with the signing of Arrow he might be able to move to an outside defensive and attacking position where he seems to be more comfortable.
Souths fans will be hoping that Wayne Bennett can solve the mystery that is Dane Gagai. Put a Queensland jumper on him and he is the best centre in the world. Take him out of it and he looks best suited as a winger.
Cody Walker will be burning after a timid display in Origin III. His and halves partner Adam Reynolds form last season was the spark behind the team’s success and they will need more of the same in 2021.
Souths have let a few players go in the off-season, notably James Roberts to the Wests Tigers and Bayley Sironen to the Warriors, but they have the depth to cover these losses, with the talented back Braiden Burns set to return from injury.
Corey Allan’s future at the club is being discussed. Allan was very impressive at fullback in Latrell’s absence and was rewarded with an Origin jersey for Game III. Put simply, he is too good a player to be playing wing, many clubs have taken note.
The Rabbitohs will be contenders again in 2021. They have a good squad, and should they keep Latrell and Cook injury free, can compete with the Penrith Panthers and all other challenges.