South Sydney. No two words in Rugby League history have ever garnered such pride and passion and equal part disappointment and ridicule.
Throughout formative years of Australian Rugby League the Rabbitohs were truly the pride of the league. Their 20 premiership wins far eclipsing all other comers. So impressive is that haul that after 43 years without adding to it, no team has managed to close the gap.
We’ve all read stories and seen numerous TV reports, we all know the fall of this once mighty club. From financial woes and the protests, the fallout from Super League War, their infamous expulsion from the league…The list goes on.
South Sydney successfully took the motto from zeroes to heroes and flipped it on its head. From such prominence they fell into mediocrity like 60 year old pro wrestler touring the seaside towns. The Souths attraction became more of a side show than best in show.
About two years ago that all started to change. A young fresh faced coach Michael McGuire was given Rugby Leagues poisoned chalice. Since then the Bunnies have made the finals two years running, not just making the making the eight, but finishing in the top four both years. A feat unseen since their golden era.
In 2013 the just missed out on winning the minor premiership to bitter rivals the Roosters by a few points. Official news from Redfern is the coach has finally signed a new and well deserved contract extension taking him to the end of the 2017 season.
After years of turmoil “Madge” has breathed a fresh attitude into the squad and former underachievers are nearing full potential (silverware pending). Madge has worked wonders for the Rabbits but let’s flip another old saying, this time a famous quote by John F. Kennedy, “Ask not what my country can do for me but what I can do for my country” works in principle and he’s already done so much. But if we switch it, what can South Sydney do for Michael Maguire? One word… Legacy.
All the greatest managers leave a legacy at their clubs. Look at everything Wayne Bennett achieved at the Broncos. Bellamy at Melbourne. You can throw in Hasler at Manly too. Des did such an incredible job while at the Sea Eagles that they continue to experience success with a man that could have a psychotic break after any refereeing decision…barring any investigation he wants conducted.
While Maguire putting his John Hancock on a contract is tremendous news for all us Bunny fans I can’t say I’m relieved as I honestly wasn’t worried. I expected it.
That one word again ‘legacy’.
In my humble and biased opinion no other club can offer that to a young hungry coach. As in comedy, in life, timing is everything.
If you ever wanted to be the coach of South Sydney you would want to be it now. As a founder club with over 100 years under its belt it already has one of the largest fan bases. The membership numbers are truly impressive. There are plans for a sports and training facility at Heffron Park, in Marouba, which will mark the Rabbits as a true industry leader, with or without government funding (Thanks again Tony).
Madge has achieved a lot in his two years but he has also had the best Rabbitohs team to pick from in decades. Now I’m not trying to undermine or reduce his accomplishments. I’m just saying that when Old Rusty signed Sam Burgess, I’m sure that not even he knew how monstrous the younger siblings would be or that they’d entertain the notion of following Sam’s huge footsteps.
Club captain John Sutton always had the potential but under Madge he is finally achieving it and looks better with every passing week. Perhaps his greatest decision as a head coach came from moving the world’s best centre into the fullback position. Since then GI has set the Rugby League world ablaze. Simply, Maguire has all the right tools at his disposal.
This Souths team can win, and should win, a premiership. My fellow cohorts were worried throughout the off season. A concern that started when Canberra sacked Coach David Furner. There was a collective holding of breath amongst even the die hard. Could he possibly leave us for the team he played for? Regardless, Canberra only had eyes for one man. Having harbored some of the worst of the leagues offenders for ‘off-field behavior’ issues, it only made sense to appoint a coach that fit the class or rather lack off, in the capital city.
It is terrific news that Michael has extended his stay at Souths. I believe he is the man that can lead the red and green army to 21 and beyond. He even has a real chance to be considered one of the greats of all time. Yes there’s a lot of hard work to go but everything at South Sydney is moving forward. They just have to keep up the effort and attitude. Few would deny that it’s not time this sleeping giant awoke from the depths. Glory Glory!
A well known Rugby League writer, League Freak has established a reputation among supporters of the game for his fearless commentary and unmatched insight. With a reach that spans both sides of the globe, League Freak has produced an independent network that allows him to distribute content to his many thousands of followers. He is the owner and main author of LeagueFreak.com