2021 Premier Rugby Season Preview: Souths with Todd Dammers

A young Souths outfit took a little while to get going in the shortened 2020 Premier Rugby season, but showed just how dangerous they can be in the later rounds. 

Those same young guns will be joined by a handful of more experienced heads who return to the club in 2021, with their sights firmly set on playing finals footy. 

Overview with Todd Dammers: 

“Everyone’s really excited to get back into things in 2021, it’s all looking really positive at the moment,” Dammers told Rugby News. 

“I really enjoyed last season. We learnt a lot and had a really young playing group who were exposed to first grade footy probably a little bit earlier than expected but I think towards the back end of the season, they showed that they know how to win at first grade level. 

“It was a great learning experience for all of us. 

“It’s like anything in life. Whenever you’re thrown in the deep end and find a way to hold your own, you take a hell of a lot of confidence out of it and the boys should be really proud of themselves for doing that. 

“They realise now the level that they need to play at and they are hungry to play that way every week. 

“We want to be a bit more mature with our decision making this year. We need to learn when to have a crack and when to manage the game a little bit better and that was part of our issue last season. 

“We were capable of playing some really good footy, but then we’d turn the ball over too often and give teams too many opportunities. We probably just need to learn when to go all in and attack, and when to calm things down and manage the game a little better. 

“We’ve welcomed a lot of players back this year and the majority of them have come through our colts system at some point and that’s something we’re really excited about.”

2020: 8th (two wins, six losses)

Ins: Elijah Kefu (Shute Shield), Jack Farrell (Shute Shield), Sean Farrell (Reds), Tom Lane (injury), Leone Cama (Shute Shield), Ralph Evalu (sabbatical), Bradley Kelegai (sabbatical), Harry Noonan (Ireland U20s). 

Outs: Khan Ah Wang (rugby league), Kalani Thomas (UQ), Lukas Ripley (UQ). 

Key areas of improvement:

“Game management is the big one for us. We need to manage certain situations in the game far better than we did last year. 

“Defence has been the other real focus for us over the preseason. We’ve done a lot more work in that area compared to past seasons and already in our trial games, you can see that the guys have a much better understanding of their roles compared even to the back end of last season. 

“It’s been great to have some continuity to allow us to build on things from the back end of last year when we were started to play some really good footy.”

Player(s) to watch:

“Michael Siaki, our MVP from last year is very underrated. Every game he’s a threat and I don’t think he gets enough recognition for just how good a player he is. 

“It’s also hard to go past Sean Farrell, who is coming back to the Reds. Sean hasn’t played a whole lot of rugby over the past 12 months due to Covid, but he’s a quality player and a big, strong human. I think he’s in a for a big year.”

Bold prediction for the season ahead: 

“For us, we want to play finals and that’s about as bold as I think I can go at the moment because everyone is undefeated before round one. 

“Across the competition, I think it’s going to get tighter and I think the race for the top four is going to be really tough. It’s probably not that bold but I don’t think it’ll be as clear cut as it has been in recent years with three or four teams well ahead of the pack.

“There are clubs that have made some serious moves of late and I think a lot of players are realising how much opportunity this competition presents, which makes it a really great comp to be involved with.” 

Image: Kev Nagle