In the face of ongoing chatter regarding the inability of South Sydney to secure victories in the absence of Latrell Mitchell, it’s been glaringly missed that nine of the Rabbitohs‘ top wage earners have shared a meagre 20 seconds of play this season.
This jarring revelation undoubtedly resonated with the players during their chartered flight to Tamworth on Thursday afternoon, in preparation for Friday’s match against the Wests Tigers.
The last time that Tatola, Mitchell, Murray, Cook, Walker, Arrow, Graham, Koloamatangi, and Burgess were sighted on the same field together was when Tatola got knocked out on his initial foray in round one against Cronulla.
Since then, a combination of injuries, suspensions, and Origin duties have collectively robbed the club of 47 games where their star players could have made an appearance.
Tatola, who has succumbed to a neck injury, might only see the light of day in the final round game against arch-rivals the Roosters.
Queensland representative, Arrow, lauded by Coach Jason Demetriou post their defeat against the Broncos last Friday, maintained their toe-hold in the title race despite the current absence of talents worth $5.5 million. The Rabbitohs currently rank ninth on the table.
Arrow forecasted a formidable form for the Souths, provided they are able to string some consistent wins as they head towards September.
“We’ve got a strong team that can pull it off if we hit good form leading into the finals,” Arrow opined. “We haven’t been able to have majority of our cap on the field this year, but it’s exciting that most of our top 17 will be playing this weekend”.
He further exclaimed, “While Taaffe has been exemplary at the back, ‘Trell does wonders for our confidence in defence. He’s large and in-charge – we’ve been missing his physicality. The confidence he brings to the team is uncommon – fortunate to have the big lad back.”
This week saw the unearthing of Mitchell’s nickname – the ‘Sheriff’ who hands out fines for lateness, incorrect uniform and mobile phone usage during training; joined by Arrow, aptly known as the ‘Accountant’.
“I’m the only one to have access to the bank account because I’m trustworthy,” Arrow quipped. Jesting aside, it’s usually Arrow who foots the bill on Mad Monday.
Arrow is set to extend his commitment to the Souths till the culmination of 2027, mimicking the recent footsteps of Tatola and Graham. “It’s almost a done deal,” he said. “My manager and the club are both happy, and if they’re content, so am I. I want my entire career to dawn the Souths jersey.”
The coach also extols second-year halfback Lachlan Ilias‘ for having shoulders broad enough to bear much of the on-field pressure throughout the year, particularly when experienced players were out of commission.
Coach Demetriou concludes stating that their first objective was perfecting their pre-season preparation, while their subsequent endeavour is “making sure 95 per cent of our squad is healthy for the finals”.” We’re well on our way to achieving that. Looking at today’s training, I’m electrified about our prospects.”