Rules for Preseason Trials as Predictors
Rule 1. Don’t take any notice of SCORES – ever!
Rule 2. Take careful note of how close the line-up looks to the likely top team and then carefully assess PERFORMANCE.
Rule 3. Check on history - does team or coach have a history of improving as the season unfolds or of folding quickly after whirlwind start.
Applied to the Charity Shield we can clearly predict:
Under Rule 1 the score does not indicate how much difference there really is between these two teams. It would falsely lead you to feel that the Dragons are closer to Souths than they actually are! It could have been by a way bigger margin!!
Under Rule 2 I would suggest the lineups were reasonably close to the best for both teams EXCEPT Rabbits were missing key component Adam REYNOLDS. I hope for the Dragons sake that they have someone or somefive or someseven to add or it’s looking very, very bleak for them.
Under Rule 3 Souths have grown during the course of past couple of seasons under coach Maguire (albeit faded in playoffs). Coach Price has only two seasons as head coach and it didn’t reflect a growth of the team.
Highlight of the match for me was the role John Sutton played in Souths attack. Fox commentary team was distracted by the number on his back, the fact that he had trained all off season as a forward and the idea that he was playing half back! What they missed was that he just played to his strengths and his natural skill set.
The effectiveness he has displayed throughout his career has been sometimes questioned by his lack of involvement, his left-sidedness and his lack of top class speed for a play maker.
What I could immediately see was by playing in the fashion he did, taking first pass on numerous occasions so naturally, he could forget about being left sided. With this new opportunity to be closer the ball all over the field he was leading anyone of their big powerhouse forwards onto short balls creating one on one opportunities for them through his own threat to dummy and go or step inside that ruck defender or occasionally link with a long pass to the backs!
What a revelation.
Souths now have the opportunity in 2014 to add a big strong man with great run, catch, pass, dummy, off load and extensive range of kicks to its forward pack and team. The number of variations or options Sutton playing in this advanced role adds to a team often accused of being one dimensional or bullies, is remarkable.
It was against a team that won’t trouble the big teams and it was a trial only but if I was anywhere near that Rabbits camp I would be one excited little bunny tonight.
A note of caution only would be Sutton was able to play his same old role of “3” in defence on the edge in this match and I presume he would need to defend at 4 or even in the middle when Reynolds returns to number 7. That will up his tackling and general defence workload quite a bit and he never strikes me as super fit.
However I think we might just have seen the genesis of a combination that might bring the thing South Sydney fans have all been waiting all those seasons for!
PS For Roosters fans this is what I was talking about in 2013 for SBW. Tying him up to the fence on a long lead that ensured he was always on the right edge in attack is so limiting not only to the player but to the team and for we fans frustrating for our sport to show its best. Players with these capabilities need coaches to recognise the possibilities and forget the current trends and realise there are many ways to play positive, productive, winning footy. Maybe there is someone in your club who can add some real X factor to the attack of your team – let me know who you think that might be.