New Souths coach Todd Louden looking to rebuild club from the ground up

Former NSW Waratahs and Melbourne Rebels assistant coach Todd Louden is looking to rebuild the rugby program at Shute Shield club Southern Districts from the ground up. 

After featuring in the 2012 and 2014 grand finals, Souths hosted first grade semi finals in 2016 and 2017 but are still yet to breakthrough and claim a maiden Shute Shield premiership. 

The Rebels missed the playoffs in 2018 and 2019 and are now putting their faith in Louden and a core group of young, talented local juniors in Sydney’s south. 

“It’s a very good club with a good strong board and a really engaged playing group so it’s been an enjoyable start,” Louden told Rugby News. 

“We’ve started by creating an All Club Development program. There hasn’t really been an all club focus in the past so we’ve tried to build a program to improve player depth right through grade and colts. It’s a bit of a long term approach but it’s something we think will do a lot of good in the years ahead. 

“Souths have blooded a lot of very young players in higher grades in recent years and that’s never easy to do. You’ve got to get those players up to the physical, technical and tactical standard that’s needed to compete in this competition and that takes a bit of time.”

Louden said he was impressed with the quality of players pushing through the junior club and colts systems at Souths but admitted a lot of those players still needed quite a bit of development.  

“There’s been a lot of good players coming through the junior feeder clubs and we’ve seen a lot of those players play in strong colts sides in recent years, so now we need to help them take the next step up into grade rugby. 

“It’s a really well run club but from an on field perspective, they probably just haven’t modernised enough to meet the standards of Sydney Premiership rugby, so that’s what we’re looking to change. 

Louden said the Rebels will be younger than most other clubs in 2020 but said that was equally as exciting as it is challenging. 

“A lot of the rebuilding started last year and people probably didn’t realise that. The club is coming off two seasons where they’ve underperformed by their own standards but they’ve also blooded a lot of young guys in that time and that’s something we’ll look to continue. 

“There’s always got to be a bit of recruitment, but it’s more about filling holes than buying a team. We’ve really got a long term focus so that our colts and juniors have a system in place to allow them to develop into quality first grade rugby players in the years ahead.

“Next year there’s a big focus on rebuilding but we still expect our sides to perform, we still want to win and I think we definitely want to do better than we did in this past season.”