Rabbitohs coach Anthony Seibold has revealed star fullback Greg Inglis is on track to return from a serious knee injury in time for South Sydney's annual pre-season Charity Shield hit-out against the Dragons.
Inglis ruptured his ACL in the Round 1 loss to the Wests Tigers, and despite bravely playing on to score a try he was eventually taken from the field with scans revealing he would miss the rest of the 2017 campaign.
It was a cruel blow for the destructive custodian, but after an extensive rehabilitation program, Inglis is aiming to make his return against the Red V in what would be a huge boost for Souths' momentum leading into the new season.
“When we come back in early November, Greg is going to be continuing his rehab running. In December he'll go into doing some light skills in full team conditioning with the view of being ready for full skills in January,” recently-appointed Rabbitohs coach Anthony Seibold told NRL360.
“Greg's aim is to play the Charity Shield against the Dragons and all our performance staff, their indication is that he'll be right for that game.”
Regardless of whether Inglis plays at fullback or makes the move to centre, he will need his forwards to lay a platform to give him enough space to work his magic.
Central to that will be the Burgess twins, Tom and George, and Souths fans will be hopeful they can return to the 2014 form that helped the Bunnies to a drought-breaking premiership.
Once regarded as the most damaging big men in the game, George has struggled for form in the wake of a serious hip injury, while Tom was heavily criticised for his ball-handling last season which saw him come up with 18 errors.
Seibold concedes that the brothers have a few areas they need to work on.
“I think at times Tom played consistently well at times during the year, but there were other times where he was criticised publicly for making errors, and I think sometimes both Tom and George are unfairly criticised because people, when they watch at home, see one person when they're two different people,” he said.
“George has got a really big season coming up, and George would understand that. He wasn't at his best this year and we certainly have given him some areas that we want him to improve in – both physical areas and also from a footy point of view – and George has taken that on board so let's see what he can produce over the pre-season.”
The English duo were publicly criticised by former Rabbitoh Mark Carroll for their playing weight, and Seibold agrees it's something they can work on if they want to keep up with the ever-increasing pace of the game.
“I think what we're looking at is to help them increase their mobility. The game is continuing to evolve from a speed point of view; all the GPS data suggests that,” the rookie coach said.
“When they were at their best a few years ago there were more interchanges than there are now, and I think if you look at our defensive cycle Souths are a big team that have three in the tackle.
“I think we finished second for numbers in the tackle in 2017 so the challenge for big bodies like Tom and George is if they're the third man to get back onside and reload and get back and engage and head off for that line going forward.
“They're both hard workers and they've got great attitudes and I'm really confident that we'll see George and Tom play great football in 2018.”