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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.....

    Commenter
    the little master
    Location
    Daceyville
    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.

      Commenter
      Joe the expat
      Location
      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.

        Commenter
        Saso
        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.

          Commenter
          Perspective
          Location
          Sydney
          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...

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

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            NRL Season 2015

            Round 1
            Thu, 05 MarTimes shown AEDT
            BRI 6 vs SOU 36 Report Stats
            Fri, 06 MarTimes shown AEDT
            PAR 42 vs MAN 12 Report Report Stats
            Sat, 07 MarTimes shown AEDT
            NEW 24 vs WAR 14 Report Stats
            GCT 18 vs WST 19 Report Stats
            NQL 4 vs SYD 28 Report Stats
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            PEN 24 vs CBY 18 Report Stats
            CRO 20 vs CBR 24 Report Stats
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            STG 4 vs MEL 12 Report Stats
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            Round 2
            Fri, 13 MarTimes shown AEDT
            CBY 32 vs PAR 12 Report Stats
            CRO 2 vs BRI 10 Report Stats
            Sat, 14 MarTimes shown AEDT
            PEN 40 vs GCT Report Stats
            MAN 24 vs MEL 22 Stats
            NQL 14 vs NEW 16 Report Stats
            Sun, 15 MarTimes shown AEDT
            SOU 34 vs SYD 26 Stats
            CBR 6 vs WAR 18 Report Stats
            Mon, 16 MarTimes shown AEDT
            WST 22 vs STG 4 Stats
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            Round 3
            Fri, 20 MarTimes shown AEDT
            MAN 12 vs CBY 16 Report Stats
            BRI 44 vs NQL 22 Report Stats
            Sat, 21 MarTimes shown AEDT
            WAR 29 vs PAR 16 Report Stats
            CBR 20 vs STG 22 Report Stats
            MEL 36 vs CRO 18 Report Stats
            Sun, 22 MarTimes shown AEDT
            SOU 20 vs WST 6 Report Stats
            GCT 18 vs NEW 20 Report Stats
            Mon, 23 MarTimes shown AEDT
            SYD 20 vs PEN 12 Report Stats
            View All Fixtures
            Round 4
            Fri, 27 MarTimes shown AEDT
            PAR vs SOU 19:35Pirtek Stadium
            WST vs CBY 19:35ANZ
            Sat, 28 MarTimes shown AEDT
            NEW vs PEN 15:00HS
            CRO vs GCT 17:30Remondis Stadium
            STG vs MAN 19:30WIN
            Sun, 29 MarTimes shown AEDT
            WAR vs BRI 12:00MSS
            SYD vs CBR 14:00AS
            Mon, 30 MarTimes shown AEDT
            NQL vs MEL 19:001300 Smiles Stadium
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            Round 5
            Fri, 03 AprTimes shown AEDT
            CBY vs SOU 16:00ANZ
            GCT vs BRI 20:35Cbus Super Stadium
            Sat, 04 AprTimes shown AEDT
            MAN vs CBR 17:30Lavington Sports Ground
            NEW vs STG 19:30HS
            Sun, 05 AprTimes shown AEST
            SYD vs CRO 16:00AS
            Mon, 06 AprTimes shown AEST
            PAR vs WST 15:00ANZ
            MEL vs WAR 17:00AAMI
            PEN vs NQL 19:00Pepper Stadium
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            Round 6
            Fri, 10 AprTimes shown AEST
            BRI vs SYD 19:35SUN
            CRO vs NEW 19:35Remondis Stadium
            Sat, 11 AprTimes shown AEST
            PAR vs GCT 15:00Pirtek Stadium
            WAR vs WST 17:30MSS
            PEN vs MAN 19:30Pepper Stadium
            Sun, 12 AprTimes shown AEST
            CBR vs MEL 14:00GIO Stadium
            STG vs CBY 16:00ANZ
            Mon, 13 AprTimes shown AEST
            SOU vs NQL 19:00ANZ
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            Round 7
            Fri, 17 AprTimes shown AEST
            CBY vs MAN 19:35ANZ
            STG vs BRI 19:35Jubilee Oval
            Sat, 18 AprTimes shown AEST
            GCT vs PEN 15:00Cbus Super Stadium
            NQL vs WAR 17:301300 Smiles Stadium
            MEL vs SYD 19:30AAMI
            Sun, 19 AprTimes shown AEST
            WST vs CBR 14:00VAS
            NEW vs PAR 16:00HS
            Mon, 20 AprTimes shown AEST
            CRO vs SOU 19:00Remondis Stadium
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            Round 8
            Fri, 24 AprTimes shown AEST
            CBY vs WST 19:45ANZ
            Sat, 25 AprTimes shown AEST
            WAR vs GCT 12:00MSS
            NEW vs NQL 14:00HS
            SYD vs STG 16:00AS
            MEL vs MAN 18:15AAMI
            BRI vs PAR 20:00SUN
            Sun, 26 AprTimes shown AEST
            PEN vs CRO 14:00Pepper Stadium
            SOU vs CBR 16:00Barlow Park
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            Round 9
            Fri, 08 MayTimes shown AEST
            BRI vs PEN 19:35SUN
            SYD vs WST 19:35AS
            Sat, 09 MayTimes shown AEST
            CBR vs GCT 15:00GIO Stadium
            CRO vs WAR 17:30Remondis Stadium
            NQL vs CBY 19:301300 Smiles Stadium
            Sun, 10 MayTimes shown AEST
            MAN vs NEW 14:00BO
            PAR vs MEL 16:00Pirtek Stadium
            Mon, 11 MayTimes shown AEST
            SOU vs STG 19:00ANZ
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            Round 10
            Fri, 15 MayTimes shown AEST
            CBY vs SYD 19:35ANZ
            NQL vs BRI 19:351300 Smiles Stadium
            Sat, 16 MayTimes shown AEST
            PAR vs WAR 15:00Pirtek Stadium
            GCT vs CRO 17:30Cbus Super Stadium
            MEL vs SOU 19:30AAMI
            Sun, 17 MayTimes shown AEST
            STG vs CBR 14:00WIN
            NEW vs WST 16:00HS
            Mon, 18 MayTimes shown AEST
            MAN vs PEN 19:00BO
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            Round 11
            Fri, 22 MayTimes shown AEST
            SOU vs PAR 19:45ANZ
            Sat, 23 MayTimes shown AEST
            WST vs NQL 19:30CSS
            Sun, 24 MayTimes shown AEST
            CBR vs CBY 16:00GIO Stadium
            Mon, 25 MayTimes shown AEST
            NEW vs BRI 19:00HS
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            Round 12
            Fri, 29 MayTimes shown AEST
            PEN vs PAR 19:45Pepper Stadium
            Sat, 30 MayTimes shown AEST
            GCT vs SOU 15:00Cbus Super Stadium
            CBR vs BRI 17:30GIO Stadium
            NQL vs MAN 19:301300 Smiles Stadium
            Sun, 31 MayTimes shown AEST
            WAR vs NEW 14:00MSS
            STG vs CRO 16:00Jubilee Oval
            Mon, 01 JunTimes shown AEST
            SYD vs MEL 19:00AS
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            Round 13
            Fri, 05 JunTimes shown AEST
            BRI vs MAN 19:35SUN
            WST vs GCT 19:35VAS
            Sat, 06 JunTimes shown AEST
            NEW vs CBR 15:00HS
            SOU vs WAR 17:30nib Stadium
            PEN vs MEL 19:30Pepper Stadium
            Sun, 07 JunTimes shown AEST
            CRO vs SYD 16:00Remondis Stadium
            Mon, 08 JunTimes shown AEST
            CBY vs STG 16:00ANZ
            PAR vs NQL 19:00Pirtek Stadium
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            Round 14
            Fri, 12 JunTimes shown AEST
            WST vs SOU 19:45ANZ
            Sat, 13 JunTimes shown AEST
            WAR vs SYD 18:00MSS
            Sun, 14 JunTimes shown AEST
            GCT vs CBY 16:00Cbus Super Stadium
            Mon, 15 JunTimes shown AEST
            MEL vs PAR 19:00AAMI
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            Round 15
            Fri, 19 JunTimes shown AEST
            MAN vs WST 19:45BO
            Sat, 20 JunTimes shown AEST
            CBR vs NQL 15:00GIO Stadium
            GCT vs WAR 17:30Cbus Super Stadium
            CBY vs PEN 19:30ANZ
            Sun, 21 JunTimes shown AEST
            NEW vs CRO 14:00HS
            MEL vs BRI 16:00AAMI
            Mon, 22 JunTimes shown AEST
            STG vs SYD 19:00AS
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            Round 16
            Fri, 26 JunTimes shown AEST
            BRI vs NEW 19:35SUN
            SOU vs MAN 19:35ANZ
            Sat, 27 JunTimes shown AEST
            WAR vs CBR 15:00MSS
            NQL vs CRO 17:301300 Smiles Stadium
            PAR vs STG 19:30Pirtek Stadium
            Sun, 28 JunTimes shown AEST
            SYD vs GCT 14:00AS
            WST vs PEN 16:00VAS
            Mon, 29 JunTimes shown AEST
            CBY vs MEL 19:00Belmore Sports Ground
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            Round 17
            Fri, 03 JulTimes shown AEST
            PEN vs SOU 19:45Pepper Stadium
            Sat, 04 JulTimes shown AEST
            STG vs NQL 19:30WIN
            Sun, 05 JulTimes shown AEST
            MAN vs CRO 16:00BO
            Mon, 06 JulTimes shown AEST
            WST vs PAR 19:00ANZ
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            Round 18
            Fri, 10 JulTimes shown AEST
            CBR vs NEW 19:45GIO Stadium
            Sat, 11 JulTimes shown AEST
            PEN vs SYD 17:30Pepper Stadium
            CBY vs BRI 19:30ANZ
            Sun, 12 JulTimes shown AEST
            WAR vs MEL 14:00MSS
            CRO vs STG 16:00Remondis Stadium
            Mon, 13 JulTimes shown AEST
            GCT vs MAN 19:00Cbus Super Stadium
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            Round 19
            Fri, 17 JulTimes shown AEST
            PAR vs CBY 19:35ANZ
            MEL vs PEN 19:35AAMI
            Sat, 18 JulTimes shown AEST
            CBR vs CRO 15:00GIO Stadium
            NEW vs GCT 17:30HS
            STG vs SOU 19:30SCG
            Sun, 19 JulTimes shown AEST
            SYD vs WAR 14:00AS
            BRI vs WST 16:00SUN
            Mon, 20 JulTimes shown AEST
            MAN vs NQL 19:00BO
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            Round 20
            Fri, 24 JulTimes shown AEST
            BRI vs GCT 19:35SUN
            WST vs SYD 19:35ANZ
            Sat, 25 JulTimes shown AEST
            WAR vs MAN 15:00MSS
            SOU vs NEW 17:30ANZ
            MEL vs STG 19:30AAMI
            Sun, 26 JulTimes shown AEST
            PEN vs CBR 14:00Pepper Stadium
            CBY vs CRO 16:00Belmore Sports Ground
            Mon, 27 JulTimes shown AEST
            NQL vs PAR 19:001300 Smiles Stadium
            View All Fixtures
            Round 21
            Thu, 30 JulTimes shown AEST
            WAR vs CRO 22:00MSS
            Fri, 31 JulTimes shown AEST
            NQL vs CBR 00:001300 Smiles Stadium
            STG vs NEW 00:00Jubilee Oval
            SOU vs PEN 00:00ANZ
            SYD vs CBY 00:00AS
            MAN vs BRI 00:00To Be Confirmed
            WST vs MEL 00:00VAS
            GCT vs PAR 00:00Cbus Super Stadium
            View All Fixtures
            Round 22
            Thu, 06 AugTimes shown AEST
            WAR vs STG 22:00MSS
            Fri, 07 AugTimes shown AEST
            BRI vs CBY 00:00SUN
            NEW vs SYD 00:00HS
            CBR vs WST 00:00GIO Stadium
            MAN vs SOU 00:00BO
            CRO vs NQL 00:00Remondis Stadium
            MEL vs GCT 00:00AAMI
            PAR vs PEN 00:30TIO
            View All Fixtures
            Round 23
            Thu, 13 AugTimes shown AEST
            BRI vs STG 00:00SUN
            CBY vs GCT 00:00To Be Confirmed
            NQL vs SOU 00:001300 Smiles Stadium
            PEN vs WAR 00:00Pepper Stadium
            CBR vs MAN 00:00GIO Stadium
            SYD vs PAR 00:00AS
            CRO vs MEL 00:00Remondis Stadium
            WST vs NEW 00:00CSS
            View All Fixtures
            Round 24
            Wed, 19 AugTimes shown AEST
            WAR vs NQL 22:00MSS
            Thu, 20 AugTimes shown AEST
            STG vs PEN 00:00WIN
            SOU vs CBY 00:00ANZ
            SYD vs BRI 00:00AS
            MAN vs PAR 00:00BO
            CRO vs WST 00:00Remondis Stadium
            MEL vs NEW 00:00AAMI
            GCT vs CBR 00:00Cbus Super Stadium
            View All Fixtures
            Round 25
            Thu, 27 AugTimes shown AEST
            PAR vs CRO 00:00Pirtek Stadium
            NEW vs CBY 00:00HS
            SOU vs BRI 00:00AS
            CBR vs PEN 00:00GIO Stadium
            MAN vs SYD 00:00BO
            MEL vs NQL 00:00AAMI
            WST vs WAR 00:00CSS
            GCT vs STG 00:00Cbus Super Stadium
            View All Fixtures
            Round 26
            Thu, 03 SepTimes shown AEST
            BRI vs MEL 00:00SUN
            CBY vs WAR 00:00ANZ
            NQL vs GCT 00:001300 Smiles Stadium
            STG vs WST 00:00ANZ
            PAR vs CBR 00:00Pirtek Stadium
            PEN vs NEW 00:00Pepper Stadium
            SYD vs SOU 00:00AS
            CRO vs MAN 00:00Remondis Stadium
            View All Fixtures
            NRL Ladder 2015
            Overall standings
            Team P W L D Pts
            South Sydney Rabbitohs 3 3 0 0 6
            Newcastle Knights 3 3 0 0 6
            Penrith Panthers 3 2 1 0 4
            Melbourne Storm 3 2 1 0 4
            Sydney Roosters 3 2 1 0 4
            Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs 3 2 1 0 4
            Warriors 3 2 1 0 4
            Wests Tigers 3 2 1 0 4
            View all
             
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