South Sydney Rabbitohs are Australia’s most successful side, having won more premierships (21) than any other club in the country. However, Michael Maguire’s current crop of players are struggling to find their best and have just completed a miserable 2017 campaign, which has seen them once again fail to rediscover their best.
The Sydney-based club have finished the current NRL season outside of the top eight, and memories of 2014 – the last time the Rabbitohs ruled the competition – feel a long time ago, with Maguire’s side putting in a disappointing season and finishing with just nine victories to their name.
There are still some fantastic players at South Sydney’s disposal, with Sam Burgess and Greg Inglis – who has struggled with injury for a lot of 2017 – two of the NRL’s most fierce competitors and among the best talents in world rugby league. However, the duo have failed to inspire the Rabbitohs to rediscover the spirit of 2014 over recent years. In 2017, Inglis managed just one appearance, but Burgess – who was almost ever-present for the Rabbitohs – failed to rediscover the form that made him one of rugby league’s standout players in 2014 and saw the forward handed the opportunity to test himself in the fifteen-man code.
Burgess’ spirit epitomised everything that the Rabbitohs were about in 2014 when they won their last NRL premiership, but that has been missing in 2017, with the final two fixtures of the season showing just how far Maguire’s side have fallen in the last three years.
South Sydney have lost to two of 2017 contenders, which is no shame, but it does show how much they need to improve to be a force in 2018. In Round 26, Maguire’s side lost out 22-16 to the Parramatta Eels, putting in a spirited performance against one of the competition’s in-form sides and saving face from a humiliating 64-6 defeat the week before at the hands of Melbourne Storm. Storm are favourites to win the NRL this season with the Australian bookmakers list 2017/18, and having already secured the minor premiership, they will now be targeting their first major since 2012 – with a number of comparison sites offering a series of free bets on the NRL for customers looking to place a wager.
The schooling that Melbourne handed South Sydney has shown Maguire the standard that must be met next season if the Rabbitohs are to compete for silverware.
The Rabbitohs are Australia’s most successful side, and seeing them struggle towards the bottom of the NRL ladder has been difficult, but in Australia’s standout competition, anything is possible and it would be no surprise to see Maguire’s side once again challenging the top-four in 2018.
However, a number of things will have to be ironed out over the close season following the World Cup, and of course, the Rabbitohs will need Inglis back fit and firing to give them the best possible chance. 2017, a lot like 2015 and 2016, will be a year the Rabbitohs want to forget, with Maguire now planning for what he hopes will be a successful future.