After a disappointing 2016 the Rabbitohs will be looking to repeat their heroics of the 2014 premiership season. How much will they improve? Gav Smit previews their chances in 2017.
2016 position - 12th
2017 draw difficulty - 8/10
Off season movements - 8/10
Anthony Cherrington, Robbie Farah, Tyrell Fuimaono, Brett Greinke, Robert Jennings, Luke Kelly, Robbie Rochow and Connor Tracey.
Kirisome Auva’s, Joe Burgess, Nathan Brown, Paul Carter, Luke Keary, Cameron McInnes and Michael Oldfield.
The 2016 season wasn’t a memorable year for the cardinal and myrtle cladded army of supporters. They watched on as their beloved side missed the finals for the first time in coach Michael Maguire’s five-year tenure. Through a combination of injuries to key personnel, club champions below their best and the inability to defeat teams below them, a 12th place finish was a disappointing result. Round 21 of 2016 is where I believe the success coming in 2017 was spawned. Souths were embarrassed and handed a 54-4 annihilation at home against an in form Canberra Raiders side. They then went on to win four of their last five games including a 12-6 defeat of eventual premiers Cronulla Sharks. Their only loss was a one-point heart breaker on the road against the other grand final side of 2016 in the Melbourne Storm.
We often see teams who put in a strong finish to a season carry their momentum into the next season and everything points 2017 being a success for the Bunnies.
South Sydney have done an excellent job in the off season highlighted by the addition of former Wests Tigers hooker Robbie Farah. Farah is an exceptional talent and under Maguire expect to see him shine and provide the creative attack the Bunnies need. Their squad upfront has also been strengthened by the inclusion of Robbie Rochow from the Newcastle Knights.
Several of their younger brigade had the opportunity to experience first grade football in 2016 and this factor along with the depth on their list to cover injury and Origin duties means it’s all positive looking to the 2017 season.
Key Betting Odds
Top try scorer: Alex Johnston $26 (Sportsbet
It’s an exciting time ahead for the Bunnies in 2017 despite the tough draw. With serious upside from champions Greg Inglis and Sam Burgess inevitable, further development of their exciting youth, strong off season inclusions to the list and a fit Adam Reynolds up and about the Bunnies are going to be right there at the business end of 2017.
If you are looking to invest some money on the futures market in the NRL 2017 season the Bunnies look hard to go passed. If they manage a fit list they will be the big improver in 2017 and catapult up the ladder and into premiership contention. A top 8 finish ($2 Sportsbet) is a gift from the bookmakers but still not a huge return on investment over the season for the average punter. If you’ve got a larger bank roll and the patience to wait the season out this long term investment is ideal.
I’m bullish enough on the Bunnies' 2017 chances to suggest the $4.50 (Sportsbet) is also a sound investment for a top 4 finish. A season can throw up many unforeseen negative variables and we lose some of our risk management with a top 4 prediction. However, with the extra value on offer, great depth in the squad and an expectation of a big year I’m confident a top 4 finish is an achievable goal for the Bunnies.