Recap of last season

The South Sydney Rabbitohs struggled to match the blistering form that lead them to the 2021 NRL Grand Final in 2022, with injury woes and plagued with inconsistency early in the season many felt they were watching a completely different team in the back end of the year.

The most notable loss to injury was Latrell Mitchell who spent nine weeks on the sidelines following a hamstring injury, however, following a stint in the United States rehabbing the injury Mitchell returned better than ever with plenty of energy.

With 14 wins and 10 losses, South Sydney finished the year in seventh with a first week of finals match-up against bitter rivals the Sydney Roosters. In a match dubbed as Sin Bin Sunday, the Rabbitohs capitalised on the uneven numbers on the pitch to put five tries on the board.

Taking the momentum into week two of finals, the Rabbitohs crushed the Cronulla Sharks to win 38-12 with Mitchell converting all seven kicks on goal. However, their season came to an end against the Penrith Panthers in the preliminary final unable to keep up with the high intensity of the Panthers' forward press.

How can they improve

South Sydney's depth has been a problem in recent years and with a number of talented youngsters, finding the right time to inject them into the side and get minutes at NRL level will be crucial to figuring out how to cover the holes left by suspensions and big-name injuries.

A key area the Rabbitohs will need to focus on is their forward line, after losing Mark Nicholls to the Dolphins, and Thomas Burgess prone to suspension the side has been able to play around with the second row and prop positions.

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Pressure will now be on the likes of Jed Cartwright, Hame Sele and Shaquai Mitchell to step up alongside the likes of Keaon Koloamatangi and Tavita Tatola. They'll need to work on both their ball-handling skills to avoid unnecessary turnovers inside the Souths' defensive 40 but also tackle pressure on the line.

List changes

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IN: Nil

OUT: Josh Mansour (Released), Lachlan Gale (Released), Mark Nicholls (Dolphins), Cody Nikorima (Dolphins), Jaxon Paulo (Sydney Roosters)

Biggest Strength

It'll come as no surprise that South Sydney's biggest strength continues to be the left edge. With Alex Johnston hunting down the all-time try-scoring record in the next couple of years and everything going right in the partnership with Cody Walker and Latrell Mitchell.

The chemistry is there in the combination and there's no shortage of skill going left with Johnston, Walker and Mitchell always managing to find the hole to get the bunnies on the board.

The Rabbitohs' versatility in the key half-back position will be huge in 2023 with three youngsters all capable of stepping into the role. Lachlan Ilias, Blake Taaffe and Dean Hawkins are all vying for the number seven jersey.

Coach Jason Demetriou has his options open and can play on their respective strengths throughout the season depending on the rest of the side's lineup.

The expectation is Demetriou will continue to back Ilias in 2023 and Taaffe will solidify his place as Souths' number 14, able to slot in the centres or fullback position where needed.

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Biggest weakness

South Sydney's defensive structure has been an issue in recent years from both the forward and defensive lines.

For many years it's been easy for Souths to put a big score on the board and walk away with a win but that always comes with the cost of conceding a handful of tries.

In 2022 South Sydney only kept its opponents scoreless once, in Round 22 against the Paramatta Eels and in most games two or more tries were conceded, resulting in tight low-scoring matches often falling in their opponents' favour.

If the Rabbitohs can limit errors and stop giving away repeat sets they'll fare better in the tight matchups, particularly against the likes of Melbourne Storm and the Panthers who have proven to be bogey sides for the Rabbitohs in recent years.

Rising Star

Shaquai Mitchell: Playing just three games in 2022 Shaquai Mitchell has stepped up to the big leagues ahead of the 2023 season to secure a regular position in the South Sydney lineup.

In his second appearance in the Indigenous All Stars match earlier in February, Mitchell averaged 11 metres from his nine runs with 49 metres gained post contact from his 39 minutes of play.

The next week Mitchell fronted up again for the Charity Shield match, this time coming off the bench for 115 metres from 13 runs including a tackle break.

With a brilliant pre-season performance it's likely Mitchell will slot into the side in the opening rounds and if he continues to put up strong performances he could be the answer as to who starts in the event Burgess and Tatola are out.


South Sydney has a brutal start to the 2023 season forced to play Cronulla, Sydney, Penrith and Melbourne in the opening five rounds with a second match against Penrith in Round Eight and Melbourne in Round 10.

Even if the Rabbitohs emerge from the opening 10 rounds with a losing record, without the Panthers or Storm to worry about until finals, the stage is set for a massive run heading into finals, to be knocking at the door of a top-four spot by their second bye in Round 20.

As far as individual accolades are concerned, all attention will be on Alex Johnston as he inches closer to Ken Irvine's 212, however, there are three others standing in his way.

If Johnston matches his 2021 and 2022 seasons, scoring 30 tries in each he'll be outright second with 196 career tries a feat that is well within reach if other sides fail to shut down the left edge effectively.

Ladder Position: 3rd

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