Queensland back-rower Ben Te’o says he needs to lead from the front for Souths this year after the offseason loss of key personnel.
Representative back-rower Ben Te’o says it’s up to him to help fill the leadership void at South Sydney after several offseason departures.
The loss of former captains Michael Crocker and Roy Asotasi, and their combined 422 games of NRL experience, has left Souths coach Michael Maguire searching for new leaders.
John Sutton has been installed as the sole captain for this year, and while Te’o is serving as the Rabbitohs skipper for the Auckland Nines, the Queensland State of Origin star knows he has to provide a leadership role at Redfern in 2014.
“I’m 27 years old now, so it’s time for me to step up,” he said.
“I have played a lot of games, so with some guys leaving last year – Crocker, Asotasi – it is time for me to step up and show a bit of leadership and help our captain.
“It has been a long pre-season, we have put last year behind us, it is a new year.
“We have a lot of new players that are going to inject some enthusiasm for us and we are all a bit more experienced.
“Every time you come up short, if you don’t win the comp you have motivation going into the next season.”
The Rabbitohs face premiers the Sydney Roosters in the NRL season opener on Thursday with every Souths fan keen to put the bitter disappointment of last year’s preliminary fadeout against Manly behind them.
A record 59,708 fans attended last year’s final round minor premiership showdown between the age-old rivals, which set the Roosters on course for their premiership victory.
Te’o says the Rabbitohs players are looking forward to resuming hostilities as much as the fans.
“If you could play anyone you want to test yourself against the best, why not start against the Roosters,” he said.
“I definitely think they are going to lift. I watched them play the World Club Challenge and they have a great side, they have sharp players all over.
“They are not going to stand still and think what they did last year will help them this year.”