Souths risk wasteful run in prelim final

·3-min read

South Sydney are at risk of becoming the most wasteful team in 60 years of top-flight rugby league.

Saturday night's preliminary final with Penrith will mark the Rabbitohs' fifth straight NRL grand final qualifier, becoming just the second team in more than 30 years to pull off the feat.

In the game's history, only 10 other sides have enjoyed a period of such sustained consistency, dating back to the Rabbitohs' own run between 1923 and 1929.

The only problem for this current Bunnies group is that they still have nothing to show for it.

They were knocked out in the same stage in 2018, 2019 and 2020, before going one step further and being beaten by the Panthers in last year's decider.

Only the Western Suburbs team of 1958 to 1963 can lay claim to such a long run of preliminary finals without a title, with their patch of consistency coming in the midst of St George's 11-year dynasty.

Otherwise, every other club in the game's history has tasted premiership success as a reward for their run.

Souths players have this week declared they know they must make use of their chances, still spurred on by last year's grand final defeat.

"It's a great sign of the club for how consistent we've been over the years," hooker Damien Cook said.

"But it means nothing unless you get there and give yourself a chance to go on to win it.

"We understand how it feels to lose these games and we understand what it takes to win as well. We're definitely using that experience from the past."

Cook said he'd never felt the need to watch back last year's 14-12 grand final defeat.

"I lived it and remember it pretty well. I remember the feeling of it after the game," Cook said.

"It'd been a few years building up to that game last year, and just to fall short, you never want to have that feeling again.

"There's no doubt that you use that motivation to want to get yourself back there and not miss another opportunity to win a grand final."

Cook is one of four remaining Rabbitohs to have played in all four of the preliminary finals, alongside Alex Johnston, Cody Walker and Cameron Murray.

The likes of Campbell Graham, Tevita Tatola and departing veteran Mark Nicholls have played in three.

"It's sort of a double-edged sword, isn't it?" Nicholls told AAP.

"It shows how we've been a consistent team. But unfortunately we haven't been able to take that next step just yet.

"We have a great game, great club and great fans. But I'm sure they'd also love to see us go that next step."

TEAMS TO REACH AT LEAST FIVE STRAIGHT GRAND FINAL QUALIFIERS:

South Sydney: 1923-29, 5 premierships

Eastern Suburbs: 1934-38, 3 premierships

Balmain: 1944-49, 3 premierships

South Sydney: 1949-57, 5 premierships

St George: 1953-1968, 11 premierships

Western Suburbs: 1958-1963, 0 premierships

South Sydney: 1967-71, 4 premierships

Manly: 1968-73, 2 premierships

Parramatta: 1981-86, 4 premierships

Melbourne: 2015-21, 2 premierships

South Sydney: 2018-22, 0 premierships.