South Sydney coach Michael Maguire is confident Souths still have plenty of forward firepower despite losing almost 600 games of experience from his pack.
He’s lost almost 600 NRL games’ worth of experience from his pack, but South Sydney coach Michael Maguire is confident the Rabbitohs still have depth and quality in their forward stocks.
After 2013, Souths bid farewell to veteran trio and international representatives Michael Crocker, Roy Asotasi and Jeff Lima plus backup hooker Nathan Peats.
The Rabbitohs didn’t recruit big name replacements, though they added experienced former Canberra forward Joe Picker to their roster.
Despite the personnel losses, Maguire was able to name a near international-strength starting pack for Thursday’s season opener against local rival and reigning premiers Sydney Roosters.
He pointed to the continued development at representative level of Englishman George Burgess and Queensland Origin duo Ben Te’o and Chris McQueen.
Maguire was also bullish about the potential impact of moving long-standing five-eighth John Sutton to lock.
He expressed no concerns about their forward depth despite the player losses in that area.
“Not at all, Crocky didn’t play a lot last year and Roy battled a few injuries there, so a lot of players last year actually got a lot of experience,” Maguire said.
“I think we’re actually heading in a really really good direction with our forwards.
“The likes of George Burgess has stepped up and he’s played international football, and got great experience there.
“With Ben Te’o and Chris McQueen playing State of Origin, and the experience that we’ve got out of that, and then adding John (Sutton) in the middle just allows us to steer things around through the middle of the park.”
While Maguire won’t talk up Souths’ prospects of breaking their 43-year premiership drought, he doesn’t hide their desire to do better than the preliminary final exits of the past two years and at least make the grand final.
“That’s why we play the game, I can’t lie about that, that’s the whole reason why we want to play footy,” Maguire said.
“I’ve got a team that really really want to be able to have an opportunity at that, and try to perform in that game, but it’s between now and then that we’ve got to get right.”