20 of the Best: South Sydney Rabbitohs
As we wait for season 2011 to get underway, the Making The Nut team will take a look back over the last 20 years to name the 20 best players at all sixteen teams. Merged teams will take account of both clubs pre-merger and the only rule is that a player must have played at least three years post-1990. A player's time at the club is the only time that is taken into account.
Here, diehard South Sydney fan Paul Dalligan bleeds plenty of cardinal and myrtle to find the best of South Sydney over the last two decades.
20. Tim Brasher
Brasher made 40 appearances for the Rabbitohs and scored 14 tries, a pretty good strike rate by Rabbitoh standards in the past 20 years. Sadly, just as he was hitting his straps with the Rabbitohs, Brasher was forced to find another club when Souths were axed from the competition for the 2000 season.
19. Phil Howlett
Whilst not a household name to most rugby league supporters, Howlett was a quiet and unassuming character who played his football with Souths during some of the darkest days in the history of the club. He certainly knew his way to the tryline and tackled like a terrier in defence, which is all any fan can ask from a member of their backline
18. Ashley Harrison
After a tough start to his South Sydney career when his brand new Monaro was stolen from his first day of training at Erskineville Oval, Harrison was the player of the year for the Rabbitohs in 2004. Never stopped trying in what were sadly some very ordinary Rabbitoh sides in the mid 2000s.
17. Terry Hermansson
Played for the Bunnies in the 1993, 1994 and 1998 seasons, a bullocking forward who may still hold the record for the largest set of thighs ever to take to a football field. A monster of a man who on his day could lay claim as being one of the most damaging forwards in the game.
16. David Faálogo
Played for the Rabbitohs between 2003 and 2009. His size, skill and vision made him one of the most exciting forwards in rugby league. A true fighter - just ask Jason Taylor…
15. Paul Mellor
He seemed to be in the red and green for 20 years. And given that this bustling centre in 1991 at age 16 was the youngest ever Rabbitoh to make his debut, he probably was.
14. Bryan Fletcher
Named as South Sydney captain after his defection from bitter rivals the Sydney Roosters in 2002, Fletcher almost immediately won the club's best and fairest when he collected the award in the 2003 season. A durable forward who would always be looking to offload at any opportunity, Fletcher starred for the Rabbitohs during the 2003 to 2005 seasons.
13. Craig Field
Field made 84 appearances for the Rabbitohs between 1990 and 1996 before being poached by Souths' bitter rivals Manly. Cheekier than a Brazilian swimsuit, Field led the red and greens to many, many wins over more fancied opponents.
12. Julian O’Neill
Sadly, Julian may be remembered more for his ability to find trouble off the field than his talents on the field. That is a tragedy in itself given that in his prime, O'Neill was a rare talent who could seize hold of any game in an instant. A star for the Broncos when they won the premiership in 1992 and 1993, O'Neill starred for the Rabbitohs from 1997 to 1999.
11. Beau Champion
Made his debut for the Bunnies in the 2005 season and played 70 games for the Rabbitohs until in 2010 he was sent to the Melbourne Storm to make way for arguably the world's best player, Greg Inglis. Whilst Champion left just as his star had begun to shine so bright, he will long be remembered by the Rabbitoh faithful. Redfern's loss will prove to be Melbourne's gain.
10. Isaac Luke
Arrived at the Rabbitohs in 2007 but has already become one of the most vital pieces in the team lineup that hopes to deliver the first premiership to South Sydney since 1971. Some say with his high work rate, his ability to hit like a freight train and his uncanny knack of finding wide open spaces he could now be the world's best hooker.
9. Darrell Trindall
"Tricky" Trindall was an enigma. On his day he seemed to be the best halfback in rugby league but one who always seemed to be plagued by inner demons that were never far away from this little football genius. One of the few shining lights in the club's struggles in the 1990s, Tricky made 150 appearances for the Rabbitohs between 1990 and 1999.
8. Mark Carroll
"Spud" Carroll earned his nickname due to his habit of downing at least a dozen potatoes before he took to the field for every game. Given the way he would charge into opposing defences like a Pamplona bull you’d think he also had them served with jalapeno chillies and washed down with a gallon of Red Bull. Not only did he play for NSW and Australia but after his playing career finished he took up perhaps his toughest assignment in trying to keep Russell Crowe out of trouble as his official bodyguard. From one Gladiator to another….
7. Michael Andrews
The captain of the last great Souths side in 1989 and played on into the 1990s. At one stage he captained a side largely of unknowns who bravely took on the legends of the game in Daley, Clyde, Stuart, Meninga, Lazarus and other superstars. He made Souths fans believe that their team could achieve the impossible. They almost did…
6. Luke Stuart
Stuart joined South Sydney when they were readmitted to the NRL for the 2002 season and has been as dependable as a farmer's mule ever since. Stuart was instrumental in the Rabbitohs last making the finals in 2007, and in 2008 won Souths Best and Fairest award. Stuart will be lining up for the Rabbitohs in 2011 in his 10th season for the club. An amazing achievement.
5. Craig Coleman
"Tugger" Coleman was the creative dynamo behind the last great Souths team in 1989. Steve Waugh was nicknamed Tugger given his surname of Waugh however the origins of Coleman's moniker are unknown. One thing for sure is that at his prime in the early 1990s, Tugger Coleman had a firm hold of the attention and affection of all Souths supporters. He holds the record for the second most games by a South Sydney player.
4. Roy Asotasi
When signed by the Rabbitohs he was described as "The World's Best Prop", and he has certainly shown plenty in his time at the Rabbitohs since the 2007 season to warrant that very high accolade. Roy has now made 88 appearance for the Rabbitohs and he leads the Rabbitohs from the front into season 2011.
3. Peter Cusack
"The Yak". Cusack was a part of the Roosters team that made 4 Grand Finals between 2000 and 2004. Whilst sadly The Yak didn’t make a Grand Final with the Bunnies, it was through no lack of trying on his part as he was the heart and soul of the Bunnies every time he wore the red and green.
2. Craig Wing
Wing scored one of the best tries in the history of the NRL when he beat at least 10 Sharks on his way to the tryline in a Friday Night Football encounter back in the 1990s. Sadly, Wing had to leave the Rabbitohs when they were evicted from the competition after the 1999 season. Wing then went on to play four Grand Finals with the Roosters, an amazing feat given how few teams in the history of the NRL have been able to regularly make it to the Big Dance. Wing's acceleration, vision and speed made him as exciting as any player seen in the NRL in recent times.
1. Nathan Merritt
As South Sydney as you can get. Merritt grew up in the famous Block in Redfern and has been a standout performer in often struggling sides. About to enter his 8th season for the Rabbitohs in 2011, Merritt was the leading try scorer in the NRL in 2002. If South Sydney is to taste long awaited premiership glory, Merritt will need to be near the top of the tryscorers table again.
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