NRL legend Matty Jones believes the best is yet to come for Rabbitohs star Cody Walker and is confident he and Latrell Mitchell can “shake up the competition”.
But the Rabbitohs were warned not to rely on their big guns’ talent until the end.
Speaking on the Matty Johns Podcast, Jones said the Rabbitohs have the “ability to win the tournament” but will fall behind on the x-factor of star players like Mitchell and Walker.
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“South Sydney is exciting,” Jones said.
“South Sydney have the ability to win the competition but if that makes sense, they believe in their ability a lot.
“Looking at them last week, they looked like a team that created a lot of chances, but they were sloppy with the football and you could see their mindset to find a way to win this.
“There’s a cricket story I like about believing in talent.
David Bone is a naturally gifted batsman and his opening partner was a man named Geoff Marsh.
“They were on tour in the UK and they were roommates and when Bunnie woke up in the middle of the night he looked up and Geoff Marsh was standing in front of the mirror practicing his block shot.
“what are u doing? “Go back to bed and I’m not like you,” he said, “I don’t have faith in my abilities and Souths could do with a bit of Geoff Marsh in them at the moment.”
“Because they’re incredibly smart and they know it and they’ve been bit in the ass a few times in the last month against the Sharks and of course against Penrith last week.”
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While Cronk has highlighted how well Jason Demetriou’s troops are drilled, he believes South Sydney’s attack is too predictable.
“The thing about South Sydney is that if you look at the Souths from a helicopter, they’re very visible in what they’re doing,” Cronk said.
“Where Walker is standing, Latrell is standing and you’d think I could stop that, but they’re millimeter perfect with their form.
“They might be able to move Tatola out to the right wing, you’ll see Elias, Walker, Mitchell.
“Obviously they’re going to go that way, but he’s scored a lot of tries like Alex Johnston has done because he puts the ball in from the corner and they’ve got on well with those formations.
“It’s a double-edged sword because they know those formations inside and out, knowing it’s coming, they still can’t stop the opposition, but they probably need a bit of a drop in that.
The combination of Elias and Koloamatangi on that right wing is crucial because if they press on Latrell and Cody they need an option two and that’s the only way they can get the ball out to Koloamatangi and get past Elias.
“I think I’m with you on the back of what Latrell is doing and Cody, they can rock this tournament, but the reliable parts of their games have to hold them.
Following a slump earlier in the season and rumors that he wasn’t enjoying football, Jones believes Walker will be in good shape by the end of the season.
“I’ve seen Cody Walker about to hit his best football, he’s just seeing certain things,” Jones said.
“An important part of the game is that he’s reunited with the midfield, he’s reunited with Cook.
“When Cook goes, so does Cody and I think Cody mainly runs the game because of his brilliance and his passing game.
“You saw Latrell put that magic ball over his lap in close support.
“His passing the other night was superb, he’s the best player in the tournament, getting his hands on those little sweep options and getting the right pass in an instant.”
Cronk He cited some of Walker’s stats from 2021, expecting the Rabbitohs to walk five-eighths into 2022 and believing things will fall into place.
“I think on the back of what he did last year, 50 odd line break assists, 30 almost 40 assists, I think he’s almost looking for that game this year,” Cronk said.
He wanted to feel that big pass from behind him and he was there earlier and he was in good shape, Latrell coming back helps, but the other part is as a ballplayer, we’ve said this many times. You can create for yourself first, you can create for anyone.
“I think the first part of the year he was going for long passes, and now he’s connected with Cook again, running the game and bringing it down to Latrell on the weekend.
“Now all of a sudden defenses are going, ‘Cody’s going to run the ball, I’m going to stand still, they’re going to short the line and then Cody has the ability to throw to tie it up but I’m going to go back to him again, it’s their defense.
If they can keep the teams close and defend well and stop the opposition, I think the key is South Sydney, not the Latrell and Cody tries.
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With the 32-year-old playing a key role for South Sydney, Jones reiterated that his teammates must step up too.
“I think it’s really important for them in Cody’s situation on that left side, they need to understand him a little bit,” Jones said.
“I like Jay Arrow in the middle. You know yourself how much a bowler, a creative player relies on his substitute, that edge back rower and for me I’m not a Jay back rower.
“For me I saw him the other night and he did a good job but he was always one step out of step with hitting the gap half.
“Little things that Cody wants his back rower to nail.”