Souths give their halves a go
As the transfer market dies down after the last June 30th deadline has well and truly passed, we can sit back and relax and consider how our teams have fared in what seems to have become a bit of a lottery in recent years. Of course if we�re talking of new signings, the one team on everyone�s lips is the Bunnies.
Souths have, in the space of a month, gained basically a new forward pack, invested in one strong centre and only signed one half. The Rabbitohs, like in previous years, were desperate to sign anyone, but were wise and in some ways restrained in their purchases.
Apart from signing the Eels Jeremy Smith this week, Souths have not signed any noted halves, while announcing that the Walker brothers will not be retained. This leaves the Bunnies with Smith and their current youngsters Joe Williams, Beau Champion and John Sutton as halves option for the next season.
While some may fear that Souths are taking undue risks in relying on a young halves combination, I feel it�s not such a bad strategy. Shane Richardson explained last week on Sydney radio that there wasn�t a lot of halves talent in the market this year, and he felt that his young troops will be able to handle the job at hand. If we look at a couple of examples of teams buying halves this season we can see the results have been mixed. The Sea Eagles bought Matt Orford from Melbourne and he has given them direction this year (although their place on the table doesn�t scream �success�). The Roosters however signed Braith Anasta and the team has been a great big failure.
Funnily enough the most successful halves combination in the competition revolves around a player that was basically plucked from the fringe of first grade - Cooper Cronk. Melboune, similar to Souths� situation this year, couldn�t acquire a noted half, so they put their faith in one of their own. And it�s this example that may provide Souths with added confidence for next season. Cronk has used a solid forward pack and some flair in the backs to play his way into some early season form, and hasn�t looked back. He has undoubtedly fitted into his role much better because he already knew the players around him and their style of play. Importantly we would never have seen any of this if the Storm didn�t have the guts to give them a try.
Some may say that players such as Williams and Sutton have already been given their chance in the halves for Souths in the past few seasons. While this is true, neither of them have been given such a chance behind a decent forward pack, like they will be next season.
Whether Souths fans have confidence in their 2007 halves combination, one thing is for certain, NRL teams will have to start thinking about doing the same thing in the next few years. Many halves are aging and teams such as Newcastle, Penrith and Cronulla will have to start blooding some young halves in upcoming seasons to ensure they have someone to replace their aging leaders.
Lucky for us we get to watch the auditions.