Picture: Detail from the Rabbitohs' Indigenous Round jersey.
RABBITOHS v EELS 29/5/2021
South Sydney's fabulous cohort of Indigenous stars always seem to light up come Indigenous Round, and so it was at Sydney Olympic Stadium (ANZ) on Saturday.
Winger and try machine Alex Johnston joined his Indigenous "brother", centre Dane Gagai in nabbing a hat-trick against the formidable Parramatta Eels outfit on the way to a comfortable 38-20 victory.
And, fellow indigenous superstars - fullback Latrell Mitchell and five eighth Cody Walker - also had huge games as the Rabbitohs left-side attack proved they are up there with the most lethal combinations in the NRL.
In truth, the match was actually just a huge relief to Rabbitohs fans. We had watched our boys blown away twice in three weeks, bleeding 50+ points against premiership favourites Melbourne Storm and Penrith Panthers.
There was a huge degree of pessimism in my household as we headed out the door bound for the match at Homebush, although a little optimism had surfaced to warm us on a cold night by the time we had parked the car and were walking up to the ground.
And, within minutes that optimism was positively tropical as Rabbitohs hooker Damian Cook strolled over for an early try.
It was largely one-way traffic from then, despite a few cringe-worthy defensive lapses that saw a generally overpowered Eels outfit still accumulate 20 undeserved points.
It was great to see Cameron Murray back on the field after an ankle injury and he caused plenty of damage to Parramatta in the middle of the park.
And, the coach's decision to start Jai Arrow rather than bring him on off the bench, was a masterstroke with the hardman's aggression critical to our fast start. I reckon we should see more of that this season.
All in all it was the perfect Indigenous Round performance from the mighty Rabbitohs.
On another note, good luck to the Rabbitohs stars who will grace State of Origin next week - Cook, Mitchell, Murray and possibly Campbell Graham (reserve) for the NSW Blues; and Gagai, Arrow and Jaydn Su'a for the Queensland Maroons. Should be a crackerjack event up in Townsville.