As the majority of NRL teams move their pre-season Rugby League training into full swing; the South Sydney Rabbitohs have had to be in top gear earlier than most.
After achieving success in 2007 on the back of their first NRL finals berth in nearly 15 years, the Bunnies plan for 2008 starts with a mission to Florida, USA on January 26th where they will take on the Leeds Rhinos in a Rugby League exhibition match.
The journey to the United States shows how advanced the South Sydney team have become in their back office and marketing mindset; a result of astute management from the likes of Peter Holmes a Court and Russell Crowe.
Coach Jason Taylor has also worked hard in the off-season reviewing hours of NRL footage with his assistants; focusing not only on Souths’ success and failures of the year – but totally reviewing the seasons of NRL front runners Melbourne Storm and Manly Sea Eagles to see exactly how those teams achieved what they did in 2007 NRL.
Taylor and the rest of the Rugby League world know that the Bunnies only needed to score more tries in 2007. Similar to Cronulla, the South Sydney outfit boasted rock solid defence but regularly struggled to put on regular points in attack.
The acquisition of Craig Wing who joins South Sydney from the Roosters was based squarely around Wing’s attacking ability. And coach Jason Taylor has made no secret of the fact he wants Wing to play at halfback, a position that Wing made his own later in the year for the Sydney Roosters.
2008 promises so much yet again for the South Sydney. With leading administrators, coaching staff and player roster – Souths continue to be injected with new talent through their North Sydney feeder club. The Bears only narrowly losing the Premier League Grand Final in 2007, but producing a bundle of talent that the Bunnies can tap into at any stage.
Their depth was a revelation in 2007, digging up the likes of Issac Luke who I believe is a future rep player and throwing someone like Fetuli Talanoa into the fray in their late season charge and seeing impressive results.
Our prediction for 2008? Their impressive buildup and strategic methodolgy will most certainly see South Sydney join the NRL Top 8 finalists again in the centenary year of Rugby League.