South Sydney coach Michael Maguire is hopeful the injection of fresh legs into his side for the final two months of the NRL season can reinvigorate the Rabbitohs’ title defence.
Kirisome Auva’a will play his first NRL game of the season for Souths against North Queensland on Thursday as he returns from a domestic violence-related ban.
Kyle Turner will play just his second first grade fixture of the year against the Cowboys in Townsville after undergoing neck surgery in February and suffering concussion in his NRL comeback two weeks ago.
Souths’ premiership defence has stalled somewhat in recent weeks in losses to Penrith and Manly.
Rugby league Immortal Andrew Johns said during Channel Nine’s coverage of the Rabbitohs’ loss to the Sea Eagles last week that the premiers resembled a very tired football team.
The returns of Auva’a and Turner could remedy that affliction.
“A number of our players are actually quite fresh, obviously a few of our players have had time off through injury so everyone is actually feeling in good shape,” Maguire said
“We have to make sure we use that now and with someone like Kirisome coming into the squad and Kyle Turner it allows us to bring some good players back into the squad.”
Souths could fall out of the top four at the end of round 23 if they lose to the Cowboys, with the fifth-placed Cronulla also on 28 competition points ahead of their Monday night clash with Melbourne.
Maguire is expecting a tough test from the Cowboys who are coming off a last-start loss to the Sharks and are eyeing off their first ever minor premiership.
“They will show exactly what they have been showing all year, they have probably been the form team of the competition and they compete at everything and we have to ensure we do the same,” Maguire said.