Wayne Bennett took a severely depleted Rabbitohs outfit within a few points of an NRL grand final. In his final year at South Sydney, watch out for a fairytale premiership swan song.
That’s the call from rugby league legend Peter Sterling who has put the competition on notice as the Rabbitohs’ roster looks set for a major shot in the arm ahead of the 2021 season.
Having lost Sam and George Burgess and John Sutton last year, Bennett’s job wasn’t made any easier as he watched his ranks get thinner week-in week-out, with some of his biggest names succumbing to injury.
Latrell Mitchell, James Roberts, Ethan Lowe and Brayden Burns were just some of the assets stuck to the sidelines.
But in their stead, a crop of budding talent stood up to the mark. Corey Allen, Bailey Sironen, Liam Knight and Mark Nicholls all proved they have what it takes to carry a team into the business end of a season.
With Titans star Jai Arrow coming to Redfern in 2021, their injured stars back to full health, and their newly unearthed bolters, Bennett may just be due to add a seventh premiership to his cabinet.
“Wayne Bennett, despite his disappointment after the grand final qualifier loss, you could tell that he liked where they were going,” Sterling told Wide World of Sports’ Rabbitohs’ end-of-season review.
“This was a club that lost Sam Burgess, George Burgess and John Sutton in fairly rapid time.
“I think they’re in the mix next year, no doubt whatsoever. Especially if they can keep their strike players on the paddock.
“It will come down to the health of the roster, the continued development under Wayne Bennett, they’ve got some good young players coming through.
“He’s got a sense of timing, Wayne. We’ll see if he could even be coming off a State of Origin coaching win, wouldn’t that be a motivating start to get him into next year.
“Obviously, he doesn’t have a lot of years left in the game as a coach. So, I think he will be keen to leave a really nice legacy at South Sydney, and there would be nothing better than winning a title.”
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Sterling said South Sydney’s success will always be built on their stellar spine, which unlike so many other sides in the league, is set in stone.
“When you’ve got Damien Cook, Adam Reynolds, Cody Walker and Latrell Mitchell as your 1, 6, 7 and 9, you’re a strong football team when you flesh that out,” he said.
The Rabbitohs’ sensational finals run was cut short by minor premiers the Penrith Panthers in a 20-16 tussle at ANZ Stadium over the weekend.