Struggling South Sydney coach Jason Taylor will put his faith in teenage debutant Chris Sandow as the Rabbitohs turn to their 7th halfback this year against New Zealand Warriors tomorrow night.
As the Bunnies continue to lurch from one problem to the next, coach Taylor continues to make wholesale changes week after week in the hope his team can somehow come up with miracle wins. Making constant changes makes it almost impossible for players to form any sort of combination and it makes you wonder; is it pressure from Rusty? Or simply a case of Jason Taylor hitting the panic button?
With just one win in 11 games and besieged by internal turmoil, South Sydney head across the Tasman to face a side who have won the past 12 contests between the two clubs since 1999.
After losing Craig Wing (shoulder) to injury in round one, the Rabbitohs have used Issac Luke, Jeremy Smith (both three games each), Eddie Paea (two games), George Ndaira and Ben Rogers (one game each) in the No.7 jersey.
Rabbitohs coach Jason Taylor admits “it’s backs to the wall time” for his squad and has turned to Sandow to break their drought.
The 19-year-old Queenslander currently leads the player of the year vote in the national under-20s competition.
“We have made a few changes to the team this week,” said Taylor.
“The changes reflect some really good football in the lower grades and in the under-20s side, which has also been going really well.
“Chris Sandow has been a standout in that team.”
Warriors coach Ivan Cleary is buoyed by his side’s Australian breakthrough over Newcastle last week but insists the Rabbitohs are a genuine danger game tomorrow night despite Souths being overwhelming favourites to claim the wooden spoon this year.
“They have had a lot of games where they have been right in it and could have won,” Cleary said.
“We are playing a team with nothing to lose and they’re probably not far away from a win, so we have to make sure it’s not against us.”
Acting Warriors captain Micheal Luck, filling in while Steve Price undertakes Origin duties, said it was difficult to predict how Souths, yet to win away from home, would play.
The Rabbitohs have made several changes to their line up with centre Jamie Simpson also handed his NRL debut and Kiwi international David Kidwell dumped to the bench.
“They’ve got a pretty solid forward pack and all the Kiwi boys come home and they always seem to play better … in front of their friends and family,” Luck said.
“Sides with nothing to lose are hard to defend against and unpredictable.
“They are just a young side full of enthusiasm … you never know what sort of things they are going to toss up at you. It is a big challenge for us.”
With Price out of the team, Ruben Wiki has been brought back into the first grade team as prop.
Warriors centre Brent Tate has also been called up by the Maroons, and Aidan Kirk will move from the left wing to play as centre.