NRL: Souths not daunted by title drought

Young Rabbitohs fans cheer on their side. Photo / Getty Images
Young Rabbitohs fans cheer on their side. Photo / Getty Images

The current crop of Rabbitohs insist they are not weighed down by South Sydney's barren run between NRL premierships as they attempt to carve out their own piece of history.

The most storied club in the NRL is hoping to end a 41-year premiership drought - the longest active streak without a title save for Cronulla's search for a maiden title.

They have reached the penultimate stage for the first time since 1989 - with Saturday night's preliminary final against minor premiers Canterbury to determine whether they can reach their first decider since 1971.

With each failed campaign the pressure has seemingly mounted on the club to add to a league-best 20 premierships, but the players say they are only concerned with what they can achieve.

"We don't even talk about that," veteran prop Roy Asotasi said of the drought.

"It's a new South Sydney, it's 2012.

"(Coach) Michael Maguire's got the squad and there's 30 players there - to compare it to 40 years ago, that's only stats, that's something that we're not overly focussed about.

"Since the start of November (Maguire) pretty much said 'it's a new start, all the stuff in the past, it's gone."

Added star forward Sam Burgess: "The history of the club is fantastic, there's been some fantastic success over the years, but we try not to get caught up too much in all that.

"What we can control as a group is what's in front of us - this week it was the Raiders and now we'll move onto the Bulldogs."

The current group have already created their own piece of Rabbitohs' history with the win over Canberra their first finals success since 1987.

After the rabbit-in-the-headlights effort in the qualifying final loss to Melbourne, Souths were far more composed in their 38-16 win over Canberra.

But that atmosphere will have nothing on what the Rabbitohs will face on Saturday night when a crowd in excess of 70,000 is set to flock to ANZ Stadium.

"Last week was a good learning curve for us all ... I'm very proud of the way the guys came out against Canberra," Burgess said.

"I'm sure it's going to be very vocal next weekend and I'm sure we'll enjoy that, but we've got to stay composed and not get overawed in that arena."

Much has been made of the Rabbitohs' finals inexperience, but they do possess plenty of players with big-match experience.

Greg Inglis, Michael Crocker and Asotasi have all won grand finals, while that trio along with Burgess, Dave Taylor and Issac Luke have all played before packed stadiums in Test or State of Origin football.

If the Rabbitohs are to challenge the Bulldogs, they will need to eradicate the mid-game slumps which have allowed their opponents back into games.

It happened again against the Raiders when a commanding 14-0 lead was reduced to 14-10 when Canberra scored two tries in three minutes.

- AAP

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