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Michael Maguire leaves no stone unturned to make it year of the Rabbits

Confident: Michael Maguire knows this year was a missed opportunity for Souths.

Confident: Michael Maguire knows this year was a missed opportunity for Souths. Photo: Getty Images

The rapid-fire enthusiasm that seems permanently attached to Michael Maguire's speech doesn't even disappear for a moment. You ask him if there is any concern that his South Sydney squad, which has reached the preliminary finals two years in a row, might just be that very good, consistent club side that simply cannot go the distance in the finals, and he doesn't flinch or pause in his response.

''I'm definitely confident [they're not that type of side],'' Maguire said. ''You've got to keep putting yourself into these opportunities, of playing in finals footy. We've now had two years of that. The boys are obviously getting more of a taste of it … it's just a matter of sticking at it, and finding those little ways of giving ourselves that opportunity again.''

The house that Maguire has built at Souths is made of sturdy stuff, with a fearsome forward pack and some brilliance out the back. But twice now they have faltered at the penultimate hurdle; first against Canterbury and then last season against Manly.

Many will wonder whether this year's Rabbitohs squad, favoured for the title at various stages through the season and only just pipped for the minor premiership by Sydney Roosters, fluffed their best chance. Maguire knows it was a missed opportunity but he can clearly see many more of them. And he looks at his most recent opponents as proof that consistency can be maintained for many years; the Sea Eagles made their ninth consecutive finals campaign on the way to this year's grand final.

''Manly have put themselves in that arena for a long time,'' Maguire said. ''When you go into finals footy, it becomes another level.

''They were able to find a way to get themselves a win in that game. That's our next step.

''We were a much improved team from the first year when I was here. We just need to set out and do that again in this next season.

''Right across the stats … they're not the be-all-and-end-all, but across a lot of the areas as a team, whether it be in our attack and our defence, we've got better numbers and we're a better team. But I'm also mindful that the whole competition's improving as well. You've got to keep moving, and looking at areas within your game to get better.''

As a result, Maguire has been moving rapidly since that defeat. He flew over to the US, along with players Luke Keary, Dylan Walker and Adam Reynolds, as well as high-performance manager Troy Thomson, for altitude training in Arizona.

While the atmosphere was new to him, the premise was not.

Through his time as an apprentice coach and then a head coach, he has visited Premier League football outfits and NFL clubs, and most recently the A-League's Western Sydney Wanderers, always looking for something extra. Perhaps he has found it this time, in that thin air, perhaps not, but he is constantly searching.

''It's just being aware of what's going on,'' Maguire said. ''I felt it was a good opportunity to take three players across and let them experience it. They did all sorts of things, from ball work through to weights through to climbing mountains. It's an opportunity to be in a camp situation and do it at altitude. They went over there with a great attitude to come back as improved players.''

Even though he is only 39, and a relative newcomer to the NRL, Maguire has appeared destined for head coaching for longer than most might think.

Well before he was the coach of the Rabbitohs, before he was in charge of Wigan, before he was an assistant coach at Melbourne and Canberra, he was a handy player for the Raiders and the Adelaide Rams. But after being forced to retire after neck problems, he looked for another outlet to keep him in the game.

''My body just didn't want to play rugby league,'' he said.

''I always wanted to be at this level; playing was my first choice, but I wasn't able to do that, so I turned to coaching.''

And that's when he first turned to overseas sporting outfits; with a backpack on, in 2001, he paid his way over to the US and knocked on the doors of the New York Jets, the New York Giants, the Philadelphia Eagles and UCLA. Again looking and learning. And he is still doing so. He squirms and cringes when you ask him how he'd rate his first two years at South Sydney, and what his goals are for next year.

While he doesn't flinch when you ask him about his team, he doesn't enjoy talking about himself so much. But he sees himself in coaching for the long haul, and hopefully, he says, at South Sydney. Off contract at the Rabbitohs at the end next year, he insists ''that's going to sort itself out''. ''It's a fantastic club,'' he said. ''I definitely see myself here at this club for hopefully a while.''

5 comments so far

  • Lets face it, in the big games for the past 2 years,Souths have choked......
    they led the comp for most of the year but in the end the Roosters demolished them in round 26

    they have lost a lot of experienced players and replaced them with unknowns.....

    the little master
    Date and time
    December 21, 2013, 3:59AM
    • Can't help thinking that 2012 was their build up year, 2013 was their peak year and 2014 will be a downturn.

      Problem for Souths was that their peak year didn't peak quite as high as they were oh-so-confident it would.

      Joe the expat
      The Hague
      Date and time
      December 21, 2013, 4:25AM
      • I'm sure that Mr Crowe and Mr Holme a Court would like to keep you,but near enough is not good enough.
        Winners are crinners and you have not won a premiership,so I think that it will be a case of you being told to go and be near enough somewhere else.

        Date and time
        December 21, 2013, 10:02AM
        • I'd love to see him try a couple of positional changes - we've got some apparently great halves in Dylan Walker and Luke Keary, who need to be used better and more. I know the pack is getting pretty crowded but John Sutton should be considered for lock.

          It isn't just about making players better; using them in the right positions is important, too.

          Date and time
          December 21, 2013, 12:06PM
          • Adams Reynolds went missing in action when the Sea Eagles smashed Souths in the game to determine the first grand finalist

            a good half back takes charge and guides the team around....Souths fell at the final jump......when Reynolds was at the helm

            it remains to be seen how Reynolds and his teammates recover from their last demoralising game of the season...

            Baxter Fairmont
            Date and time
            December 22, 2013, 1:21PM

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            NRL Season 2015

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            NEW 24vs NZW 14 Report Stats
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            MAN 24vs MEL 22 Stats
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            MAN 12vs CBY 16 Report Stats
            BRI 44vs NQL 22 Report Stats
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            NZW 29vs PAR 16 Report Stats
            CBR 20vs STG 22 Report Stats
            MEL 36vs CRO 18 Report Stats
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            GCT 18vs NEW 20 Report Stats
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            PAR 29vs SOU 16 Report Stats
            WST 24vs CBY 25 Report Stats
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            NEW 26vs PEN 14 Report Stats
            CRO 22vs GCT 24 Report Stats
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            PEN 22vs MAN 12 Report Stats
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            STG 12vs BRI 10 Report Stats
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            NZW 28vs GCT 32 Report Stats
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            CRO 16vs NZW 20 Stats
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            MAN 30vs NEW 10 Stats
            PAR 10vs MEL 28 Stats
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            CBY 10vs SYD 24 Stats
            NQL 31vs BRI 20 Stats
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            PAR 13vs NZW 17 Report Stats
            GCT 22vs CRO 23 Report Stats
            MEL 16vs SOU 12 Stats
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            NEW 22vs WST 12 Stats
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            Fri, 22 MayTimes shown AEST
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            CBR 34vs CBY 41 Stats
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            CBR 12vs BRI 24 Stats
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            WST 20vs GCT 27 Report Stats
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            SOU 36vs NZW 4 Stats
            PEN 0vs MEL 20 Report Stats
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            CBY 29vs STG 16 Stats
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            WST 34vs SOU 6 Report Stats
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            NZW 21vs SYD 25 Report Stats
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            CBR 20vs NQL 21 Report Stats
            GCT 14vs NZW 36 Report Stats
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            SOU 20vs MAN 8 Report Stats
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            NQL 18vs CRO 24 Report Stats
            PAR 16vs STG 12 Report Stats
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            CRO 28vs STG 8 Report Stats
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            MEL 52vs PEN 10 Report Stats
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            NEW 30vs GCT 2 Report Stats
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            Round 20
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            MEL 22vs STG 4 Stats
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            CBY 16vs CRO 18 Report Stats
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            WST 34vs MEL 16 Report Stats
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            NQL 32vs CBR 24 Stats
            MAN 44vs BRI 14 Stats
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            SOU 20vs PEN 16 Report Stats
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            GCT 24vs PAR 14 Stats
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            Round 22
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            BRI 16vs CBY 18 Report Stats
            MAN 28vs SOU 8 Stats
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            NZW 0vs STG 36 Stats
            CRO 30vs NQL 18 Stats
            PAR 10vs PEN 4 Stats
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            MEL 36vs GCT 14 Report Stats
            NEW 22vs SYD 38 Report Stats
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            Round 23
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            NQL 18vs SOU 31 Stats
            Fri, 14 AugTimes shown AEST
            BRI 32vs STG 6 Report Stats
            Sat, 15 AugTimes shown AEST
            WST 18vs NEW 24 Stats
            PEN 24vs NZW 10 Stats
            SYD 28vs PAR 18 Stats
            Sun, 16 AugTimes shown AEST
            CBR 24vs MAN 26 Stats
            CBY 36vs GCT 14 Report Stats
            Mon, 17 AugTimes shown AEST
            CRO 2vs MEL 30 Stats
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            Round 24
            Thu, 20 AugTimes shown AEST
            STG 19vs PEN 12 Report Stats
            Fri, 21 AugTimes shown AEST
            SOU 18vs CBY 32 Report Stats
            Sat, 22 AugTimes shown AEST
            CRO 40vs WST 18 Report Stats
            NZW 16vs NQL 50 Report Stats
            SYD 12vs BRI 10 Report Stats
            Sun, 23 AugTimes shown AEST
            GCT 28vs CBR 12 Stats
            MAN 16vs PAR 20 Report Stats
            Mon, 24 AugTimes shown AEST
            MEL 6vs NEW 20 Report Stats
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            Round 25
            Thu, 27 AugTimes shown AEST
            SOU 12vs BRI 47 Report Stats
            Fri, 28 AugTimes shown AEST
            MAN 10vs SYD 46 Report Stats
            Sat, 29 AugTimes shown AEST
            PAR 28vs CRO 35 Stats
            NEW 18vs CBY 20 Stats
            MEL 14vs NQL 6 Report Stats
            Sun, 30 AugTimes shown AEST
            WST 50vs NZW 16 Report Stats
            GCT 28vs STG 26 Stats
            Mon, 31 AugTimes shown AEST
            CBR 34vs PEN 18 Stats
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            Round 26
            Thu, 03 SepTimes shown AEST
            BRI 8vs MEL 15 Report Stats
            Fri, 04 SepTimes shown AEST
            SYD 30vs SOU 0 Report Stats
            Sat, 05 SepTimes shown AEST
            PEN 30vs NEW 12 Stats
            STG 32vs WST 30 Stats
            NQL 42vs GCT 12 Stats
            Sun, 06 SepTimes shown AEST
            PAR 24vs CBR 28 Stats
            CRO 12vs MAN 14 Stats
            CBY 26vs NZW 22 Stats
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            Telstra Premiership Finals Round 1
            Fri, 11 SepTimes shown AEST
            SYD 18vs MEL 20 Report Stats
            Sat, 12 SepTimes shown AEST
            CBY 11vs STG 10 Report Stats
            BRI 16vs NQL 12 Report Stats
            Sun, 13 SepTimes shown AEST
            CRO 28vs SOU 12 Report Stats
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            Telstra Premiership Finals Round 2
            Fri, 18 SepTimes shown AEST
            SYD 38vs CBY 12 Report Stats
            Sat, 19 SepTimes shown AEST
            NQL 39vs CRO 0 Report Stats
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            Telstra Premiership Finals Round 3
            Fri, 25 SepTimes shown AEST
            BRI 31vs SYD 12 Stats
            Sat, 26 SepTimes shown AEST
            MEL 12vs NQL 32 Stats
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            Telstra Premiership Finals Round 4
            Sun, 04 OctTimes shown AEDT
            BRI 16vs NQL 17 Report Stats
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            NRL Ladder 2015
            Overall standings
            Team P W L D +/- Pts
            Sydney Roosters 24 18 6 0 291 40
            Brisbane Broncos 24 17 7 0 195 38
            North Queensland Cowboys 24 17 7 0 133 38
            Melbourne Storm 24 14 10 0 119 32
            Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs 24 14 10 0 42 32
            Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks 24 14 10 0 -7 32
            South Sydney Rabbitohs 24 13 11 0 -2 30
            St George-Illawarra Dragons 24 12 12 0 27 28
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