AAP Rugby

Souths prove they’re the real deal

By AAP Newswire

These are the numbers that prove South Sydney aren't just a feel-good story, but the real deal this NRL season.

While coach Anthony Seibold says he's just as happy flying under the radar with no one is talking about his side, he acknowledges they can't be ignored given what they have achieved.

When they take on Parramatta on Thursday night they'll be aiming for a seventh straight win in a season for the first time since 1994.

Head to toe, the third-placed Rabbitohs' have looked like a rejuvenated outfit with the most telling improvement in their attack.

After being 10th for tries scored last year, they now lead the competition with an average of four per game.

They were 14th for run metres last year and in 2018 are second with 1439 per game.

They've gone from 12th to first in linebreaks - 5.9 per game.

And under new mentor Seibold they're making the fifth most tackle breaks in the competition (26.8) - though they were relatively strong in that area in 2017 in sixth.

"It's quite different at the start of the year. We were just trying to improve our performance and we weren't spoken about like we have been the last week or two," Seibold said.

"The group here is a level-headed group, we have a level-headed coaching staff, we're trying to focus on our next job.

"We're not getting ahead of ourselves but I understand when you win there's expectation or external noise that you need to deal with."

Most pleasing is the way they appear to be navigating the representative period.

After Origin players Angus Crichton, Damien Cook, Dane Gagai and Greg Inglis missed their win over Cronulla, they were rested against the Gold Coast last week but the Rabbitohs still had enough grit to grind out an 18-16 victory.

All four will return against the Eels at ANZ Stadium on Thursday.

The last-placed Eels are coming off a promising win over North Queensland - their first after five straight losses - but are being forced to back up on a five-day turnaround and a return trip from Darwin.

"There's not a lot we can do, we've just had the one training session, keep things nice and simple," Eels coach Brad Arthur said.

"We've recovered well after the flight. We got the red eye back to get and have an extra day in Sydney.

"Every team has to go through it, we've got no excuses."

STATS THAT MATTER

* The Eels have won the past three matches against Souths, after losing nine of the previous 10.

* This year is the third time in the NRL era (since 1998) that Parramatta have started a season with three wins from their first 14 matches (2012 and 2013). They finished with the wooden spoon on those occasions.

Source: Fox Sports Stats