Sport & Health

New coach, new beginning for Rabbitohs

All right, it’s time to get excited about the footy. The NRL season kicks off this month, and things are looking good for the Rabbitohs. I predict a big year – Souths will surprise many and go all the way. We have good juniors, depth and strength across the park.

Three generations of life-long Souths supporters: Peter and Rosslyn with their daughter Jess, and granddaughters Briony and Helena at Redfern Oval on February 23. The family made the four-and-a-half-hour journey from the Riverina, proud to be part of John Sutton’s testimonial celebrations. Photo: Andrew Collis

Souths fans are pleased to see Greg Inglis rested during the trial games. We need him to be fit and strong for the start of the season. Make no mistake, Inglis is one of the finest players in the NRL – an asset on the wing, at centre or in the halves.

The Indigenous All Stars game last month showed Souths players at their attacking and defending best. Cody Walker was sensational. So too Alex Johnston, who will step up this year in the fullback position. Dane Gagai starred for the Maori team.

And Braidon Burns is just the kind of player – on and off the field – we want at the club. Hard-working and inspiring.

What can I say about new coach Wayne Bennett? Yes, he is one of the game’s most successful coaches. He handles the pressure with professionalism and a cool sense of humour. I have great respect for him as a disciplinarian. He will win the respect of players, encourage hard work and team work. As coach of the English team, he will build on rapport established with the Burgess boys, who have trimmed down and muscled up in the off season.

I’m not too worried about trial game results. The game against Penrith in the pouring rain on February 23 was a loose and free-flowing affair. The 28-8 loss will provide some motivation for the weeks to come. Good to see John Sutton receive the recognition he deserves as a one-club player. Sutton played his first game in the top grade at just 18 years of age. He is now 32. That’s service! Without Sutton in the side it’s doubtful we’d have won the title in 2014.

The clash against the Dragons in Mudgee on March 2 was an entertaining 11-try affair. Rabbitohs newcomer Corey Allan scored a hat-trick of tries. The final result an impressive 36-24 victory. Souths have won six of the past seven Charity Shield matches, which raise much-needed funds for the St George and Wollongong Public Hospitals, and Souths Cares, an independent, not-for-profit institution established in 2006 to support the local community and address social needs across the South Sydney region.

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