2017 started with their star back, Greg Inglis, going down with an ACL injury and things never really picked up from there. A 12th place finish and a consecutive straight year without a finals appearance saw the coach sacked and Anthony Seibold appointed to the job.
With Inglis now looming as a likely Round 1 starter, coupled with the recruitment of Dane Gagai and the emergence of Angus Crichton, the Rabbitohs could see some definite improvement on the past two seasons. However, will it be enough to see them jump back into the top eight?
2018 Gains: Jesse Arthars (Melbourne Storm, 2019), Dean Britt (Melbourne Storm, 2019), Billy Brittain (2018), Dane Gagai (Newcastle Knights, 2021), Jacob Gagan (Newcastle Knights, 2018), Richard Kennar (Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs, 2019), Vincent Leuluai (Melbourne Storm, 2018), Jesse Martin (Manly Sea Eagles, 2018), Mark Nicholls (Melbourne Storm, 2018), Junior Tatola (Wests Tigers, 2018)
2018 Losses: Anthony Cherrington (released), Bryson Goodwin (Warrington Wolves), Jack Gosiewski (Manly Sea Eagles), Aaron Gray (Cronulla Sharks), Brett Greinke (released), Gabriel Hamlin (Wigan Warriors), Luke Kelly(released), Dane Nielsen (released), Robbie Rochow (Wests Tigers), Toby Rudolf (released), David Tyrrell (released)
Likely Starting 17
1 Alex Johnston, 2 Richie Kennar, 3 Greg Inglis, 4 Dane Gagai, 5 Braidon Burns, 6 Cody Walker, 7 Adam Reynolds, 8 Thomas Burgess, 9 Damien Cook, 10 Zane Musgrove, 11 Sam Burgess, 12 Angus Crichton, 13 Cameron Murray.
Interchange: 14 John Sutton, 15 Kyle Turner, 16 Tyrell Fuimaono, 17 George Burgess.
Reserves: 18 Robbie Farah, 19 Mark Nicholls, 20 Jason Clark, 21 Robert Jennings.
On paper, the Rabbitohs have one of the harder opening two months going around with games against the Warriors (away), Panthers (away), Sea Eagles, Bulldogs, Dragons (away), Roosters, Raiders and the Broncos. That’s four of last year’s top eight. Their bye falls in Round 17, which coincides with the Super Trade week.
Angus Crichton ($609k, 2RF) – 2017 Ave 68.6
Crichton was a revaluation for Souths and one of the few shining lights for them last season. He was also a candidate for SuperCoach MVP, with his SuperCoach output going to a whole new level from a measly average of just 31 PPG in 2016 to 70 PPG in 2017. The dual position flexibility and starting price ensured that he was one of the highest owned players in the game. From Round 6, Crichton averaged 75 PPG (including a 166 point performance in Round 15) at average of MPG of 70. He finished the season ranked in the top 20 for base PPG with 46 PPG, but it was the addition of his power statistics (where he ranked third behind only Martin Taupau and Tony Williams) that led to him having the fifth highest SuperCoach average for a 2RF. The only player in the top five that had higher power PPG was Jason Tauamlolo.
How the Rabbitoh’s have someone failed to secure him long term is puzzling, with the former Union star set to join the Roosters from 2019. With the impending shift, a pessimist may think that others will be favoured with one eye on the future, but Seibold will be looking to impress in his first year as head coach and for South’s to improve on last year then you’d think Crichton needs to play a big role. The back-row is likely to include Burgess, Crichton and Murray, with Murray perhaps the one to make way for a bench rotation forward such as John Sutton. However, with the likes of Turner and Fuimaono to be included somewhere in the 17, any great increase in Crichton’s minutes from 2017 are unlikely.
At an opening price of $609k, coupled with the loss of his dual position flexibility, I won’t be starting with Crichton this year.
Sam Burgess ($572.6k, FRF / 2NF) – 2017 Ave 64.5
While a 65 PPG average may seem very solid, Burgess actually had a relatively disappointing season with his SuperCoach average dropping 10 PPG from his 2016 output. Minutes per game weren’t the issue, with 70 MPG across the two seasons and likewise his work rate remained solid with base PPG hovering around 56, so what went wrong? There was a reduction in his attack with offloads reducing from 2 per game to 1.6, while his line-breaks fell from 0.2 per game to 0.14 and line-break assists declined from a very impressive 0.34 per game to just 0.09 in 2017. Can he regain these attacking stat’s in 2018? Who know’s, really. But, given his work rate remained high and he starts cheaper than he has for several years, then he’s probably worthy of one more shot.
Cody Walker ($528k, 5/8 & FB) – 2017 Ave 60
Some may suggest that Walker is not a really sleeper in the classical sense, but given how much he stunk it up over the last half of the season in 2017, I have decided to include him here.
Walker was the must have halve from rounds 1 to 10 with an average of 73 PPG. However, following scores of 27, 26 and 24 from rounds 11 – 14, his season never really recovered and both his average and price tumbled from then on. A shift to fullback from round 10 to 18 proved to be a disastrous switch for him, averaging just 53 PPG (including a 100 point game in round 10). This also coincided with South’s losing seven of nine games. Walker is set to line-up with Reynolds in the halves with both players having worked with Matthew Johns in the off-season. I can’t recall Johns being renowned as a master coach, but both players may end up with a solid five minute stand-up comedy routine come Round 1. What does attract me though is that Seibold has said publicly that he wants the ball in the hands of Walker and Reynolds more often. Music to our ears, SuperCoaches.
With current ownership of less than 3%, a worth POD option for your consideration.
Dane Gagai ($478k, CTW & FLB) – 2017 Ave 54
Gagai is currently owned in 11% of SuperCoach sides despite him coming off three season averages of 54, 45 and 54. He shifts from the Knights, who were the worst side in the competition during his time there and assuming that he starts the year in the centres there is some value in his Round 1 price given that in 2017 he averaged 57 PPG from the CTW position compared to an average of just 45 when he switched to fullback (across six games). His base stats for a CTW are also respectful at 30 PPG, so there is a lot to work with here. The question mark for him this season is if there is really that much more improvement at the Rabbitohs given that Inglis, Walker and Reynolds are all likely to be the key focal points in attack?
Cameron Murray ($394k, 2RF) – 2017 Ave 43
Crichton MK2? Reports are that Murray will slot into the starting back-row at South’s and this may see him playing more than the 48 MPG from 2017. With a PPM just short of 1 and base PPM of 0.8, people are starting to get excited and as a result he finds himself in 14% of SuperCoach sides at the time of writing this preview. Should he be named in the starting side come Round 1 then expect this ownership figure to triple given his starting price. However, with the likes of Turner and Fuimaono likely to be rotated off the bench, how many more minutes can we realistically expect Murray to receive this year? Will Murray be a Crighton clone or a Robbie Rochow bust type?
Damien Cook ($378k, HOK) – 2017 Ave 43
Ok, so now we get to a legitimate sleeper. Cook is currently in a two way battle with Robbie Farah for the starting hooker role. Whoever, loses out may not even figure in the 17. With average MPG of less than 50 in 2017 at a PPM of 1, there is certainly room for optimism if he is the starting nine for the Bunnies. For me the equation is pretty straight forward, no Farah and Cook should definitely be considered for your side, if the ex Wests captain is however in the 17, then avoid Cook like the plague.
Greg Inglis ($519k, FLB & CTW) – 2017 Ave 65
Inglis starts the season at a slight discount (58 PPG price range) due to him missing almost the entire season with an ACL injury. A 60 PPG average in 2016 and 65 PPG average in 2015, suggests on face value that Inglis may be a bit of bargain this year and importantly he has retained the dual position flexibility. However, reports are that he will start the year in the centres with Alex Johnston retaining the fullback role, which is likely to have an impact on his SuperCoach output. In addition to this there is certainly a lot of risk in selecting players returning from serious knee injuries, one only needs to look back as far as Josh Mansour and his output on return last season. Like a 70 year old without a hit of Viagra, it’s going to take GI a while to get warmed up this season. Pass.
John Sutton ($449k, 5/8 & 2RF) – 2017 Ave 51
This one seems on face value easy, but don’t tell me that at some stage during your SuperCoach playing years you haven’t considered Sutton as a dual positioned option? With season averages of 51, 55 and 40 across the past three seasons, Sutton is about as middle of the park as you can get. With a looming bench spot this year, stay away from Sutton once again.
Wow we got stung last year by South’s rookies! Are we a sucker for punishment again this season? Adam Doueihi is currently owned by 14% of all SuperCoach sides, but is yet to play a single NRL game. Tell me more. Doueihi shined for Lebanon in the World Cup, which may partially explain his current ownership %; however, the young half will only find his way into the side should there be an injury to either Walker or Reynolds.