NRL 2022: South Sydney Rabbitohs season review – Sporting News

South Sydney were always going to be facing an uphill battle in 2022, following the departures of some key personnel in the off-season.
Jason Demetriou took over the reins from Wayne Bennett as head coach, while rookie halfback Lachlan Ilias was handed the unenviable task of replacing Adam Reynolds.
The club also lost rep stars Dane Gagai and Jaydn Su’A, as well as legendary playmaker Benji Marshall, leaving them at a crossroads after a narrow defeat in the 2021 decider.
But in true Rabbitohs fashion, they defied the odds and a mid-season form slump to come within one game of the grand final after defeating the Roosters and Sharks in the finals. 
The Sporting News have taken a deep dive into the Bunnies year below. 
Given the losses mentioned above, South Sydney certainly OVER-DELIVERED this year, particularly during the latter stages of the campaign.
Sitting in the lower-half or even outside the top-eight at stages during the year and clearly missing Latrell Mitchell, it looked like the Rabbitohs were on the verge of missing the finals for the first time since 2017.
But the return of their fullback sparked the cardinal and myrtle into form, leading them into September with plenty of confidence, which only grew after a win over local rivals the Roosters in the first week of the finals. 
Many expected them to still make the finals and after finishing 7th, that would have been a solid year. But winning two finals games and making their fifth-straight prelim was proof that this club will only continue to be a force in years to come.
Their loss in the prelim to Penrith was a tough way to go out, but overall it was a good year for Souths under the new coach in Demetriou. 
It would be easy to say the prelim final loss to the Panthers is when it “fell apart” for Souths, but the fact they made it that far is a huge achievement considering where they came from.
Instead, we’re going to say the Rabbitohs’ season fell apart in between Round 7 and Round 11. 
A narrow loss to the wooden-spooners Wests Tigers was followed by a win over Manly, before another defeat at the hands of Brisbane, with former halfback Adam Reynolds steering the side to victory. 
Souths would also suffer a heavy loss at the hands of Canberra, and those three losses in four rounds would see them drop out of the eight and put their chances of a top-four finish on life support. 
Going down to the Dragons in Round 15 – a week before Latrell Mitchell’s return – was another tough night for the Rabbitohs. At that stage of the year, Cody Walker was clearly struggling for form and Lachlan Ilias even saw himself get hooked by the coach, which is never a good sign for a young playmaker. 
Finishing outside the top-four, as we have seen on countless occasions, came back to haunt the Bunnies later in the year. 
September was by far and away the best time to be a South Sydney fan in 2022, with the side putting together two of their better performances in two crucial sudden-death finals games. 
After being outclassed by the Roosters in Round 25, the two sides met again a week later in an elimination final at Allianz Stadium and this time the Rabbitohs grabbed the victory.
With seven sin-bins and a number of players leaving the field with injuries and head knocks, South Sydney toughed it out and advanced to the second week of the finals, where they would take on Cronulla.
Jason Demetriou’s side would prove far too strong for the Sharks in the semi-final, taking out a 38-12 victory on their way to a fifth-straight prelim final.
This isn’t even up for debate.
Prior to Latrell Mitchell’s return in Round 16, South Sydney were sitting outside the eight and had been humbled by the likes of Brisbane, Canberra and St George Illawarra.
Upon his return, Latrell helped lead the Bunnies to seven wins from their final 10 games of the regular season, including a 26-0 shut-out of the Parramatta Eels and a 10-point win over the Cowboys.
The 25-year-old – who only played 17 games – finished the year with seven tries, 17 try assists, 90 tackle breaks and nine linebreaks, proving himself to be the difference-maker for his side. 
This is quite a tough one to judge, but we’re going to say South Sydney will improve slightly next year.
Although they made the prelim final, Souths finished in 7th spot on the ladder and were in danger of missing the finals right up until Round 24.
The difference for the side is Latrell Mitchell, and given he missed over two months during the season, Rabbitohs fans will be hoping to see him play a lot more football in 2023.
With a pretty similar roster, Latrell fit and firing and another off-season for the likes of Lachlan Ilias, Isaiah Tass and Davvy Moale, Souths can compete for the top-four and push for another title next season. 
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