South Sydney struggling through State of Origin period, but should topple Wests Tigers, says Andrew Johns

They were pumped in the first match against Parramatta, and then Canberra put a big score on them.

There’s been a lot of rain this week and that ground is slippery of a night at the best of times, so the kicking game will be important.

That’s where Souths have a distinct advantage with experienced halfback Adam Reynolds, who comes back into the side after being ruled out indefinitely with a back problem. He’s got the best short kicking game in the NRL and it will be crucial here.

Even though Souths have lost three in a row, their last win was against the Tigers in round 11. It shows you can’t win without your best players and Souths have been missing quite a lot of them of late.

They get a few back in this match.

The left-side strike of South Sydney will be helped by centre Braidon Burns coming back, and also with Alex Johnston at fullback.

The other plus is NSW stars Damien Cook and Cameron Murray will back up from Origin II, despite both having massive games.

A tale of two styles

I find it really hard to get a read on the Tigers.

The Rabbitohs’ last win came against the Tigers in round 11.Credit:AAP

They’re still trying to find their way, from the old free-flowing attack from the past to the disciplined, defensive style of new coach Michael Maguire. They’re in between styles. It takes time to change.

If you put a ratio on it, the Tigers teams of the last decade or so have put all their emphasis on attack instead of defence. They’re 60 per cent attack, 40 per cent defence.

Things are changing under “Madge”, who comes out of the Melbourne Storm system where he learned under Craig Bellamy about the importance of defence and discipline around the ruck. He’d rather win a game 16-6 than 36-26. That hasn’t been the Tigers’ way.

Tonight, they will need a huge game from their front-rowers Josh Aloiai and Alex Twal. They need to fire to stop the big Souths pack.

The Tigers have really stumbled in the last month. They had that controversial golden-point win against the Cowboys but, previous to that, they haven’t won since round nine.

Player to watch

Souths five-eighth Cody Walker will have a huge game. He would’ve seen the injury to Blues halfback Nathan Cleary and sniffed a huge opportunity to force his way back into the side.

This is Cody Walker's time to shine if he wants his Blues jumper back, according to Andrew Johns.

This is Cody Walker’s time to shine if he wants his Blues jumper back, according to Andrew Johns.Credit:AAP

Some people think he could be used off the bench. I don’t believe that’s the best way to use him — but there’s no reason why he can’t be putting some questions to NSW coach Brad Fittler about a possible recall in the No.6 jumper with a man-of-the-match performance here.

As we all know, he came in for some heavy criticism after Origin I. I thought he did some great stuff late.

In Origin, it’s all kick-reception footy so you don’t get back until play three or four. Queensland completed at 94 per cent, so for NSW to come within four points suggests the Blues weren’t as bad as many have claimed.


Cody found it hard to get in the game. It’s that simple. People forget it was his first game, in a game that is totally different to anything he’s played before.

You don’t lose your natural ability in the space of one Origin match.

The verdict

It’s a tough time of year. Players get to this middle stage if the season when it gets colder and harder to get out of bed for training. The body aches with injuries and soreness.

Really good teams get through this period and then spike again just in time for the finals. Souths are one such team.

In this one, I expect it to be pretty tight for the first 50 to 60 minutes.

But on the back of Souths’ big forward pack and Reynolds’ kicking game, I reckon they will roll over the Tigers in the end.

JOEY’S TIP: Rabbitohs by 10

Most Viewed in Sport



Related posts

Make a comment