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Grand final stars come through local ranks in South Sydney Rabbitohs heartland

South Sydney juniors Alex Johnston, Adam Reynolds, Blake Taaffe, Cameron Murray, Keaon Koloamatangi and Campbell Graham. Picture: Sunny Brar

Grand final stars come through local ranks in South Sydney Rabbitohs heartland

Author : Dean Ritchie News Corp Australia Sports

These are the six South Sydney juniors who have stormed into Sunday’s NRL grand final on the back of an extraordinary $100m investment.

NRL: The South Sydney Rabbitohs are through to the NRL Grand Final after a dominating victory over the Manly Sea Eagles in the preliminary finals at Suncorp Stadium at Brisbane. The Rabbitohs will compete in the GF against Melbourne or Penrith.

These are the six South Sydney juniors who have stormed into Sunday’s NRL grand final on the back of an extraordinary $100m investment.

The Daily Telegraph can reveal that Kingsford-based Souths Juniors Club has outlaid the staggering amount to propagate rugby league in the proud Rabbitohs heartland.

And the money has helped steer local kids Alex Johnston (La Perouse United), Adam Reynolds (St Peters JRLFC, Alexandria Rovers, La Perouse Panthers, Kensington United), Blake Taaffe (La Perouse Panthers), Cam Murray (Mascot Jets), Keaon Koloamatangi (Mascot Jets) and Campbell Graham (Coogee Wombats/Maroubra Lions) into the decider against Penrith.

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Souths Juniors’ money ensures every kid in the local area plays annually for free.

This year alone, Souths Juniors spent $2m on jumpers, shorts, socks, registration and insurance for the area’s 3500 rugby league players.

The cash is also spent on accrediting coaches and officials, rental for ground lighting, ground hire, referee fees and grants for clubs.

“Souths Juniors are so invested in developing their players and this would be the ultimate repayment, to win a premiership for the club,” said Graham.

“It’s just another reason why I want to bring the trophy home.

“I was talking to Cameron Murray the other day about how good the buzz and atmosphere would be around the place this week.

“We are getting videos and messages from people I grew up with saying how excited they are, given it’s a tough time in lockdown back in Sydney.

“This has given them something to smile about which is a great feeling. You know how much the community is invested in the club.

“To hopefully be part of that successful history would be unreal. And there are five other boys who have taken a very similar pathway to me.”

A time lapse of Scott ‘Boo’ Bailey’s Rabbitohs poster, with a soundtrack from up and coming South Sydney rapper Driftwood.
Souths Juniors President Keith McCraw revealed the amount that has been injected into junior rugby league since the club opened in 1957.

“Since the foundation of the club, I’d suggest comfortably $100m that has been put into the propagation of junior rugby league,” McCraw said. “We put in north of $2m a year.

“We cover shorts, socks, jumpers, insurance, we accredit their coaches and officials, we pay the rental, we pay the rental for the lighting at their grounds, we pay for the referees’ fees and give grants to the clubs. We pay everything.

“That’s what the club was built for – to propagate junior rugby league.

“We have some housing estates out here and not everyone can afford to have their kids playing sport. Every kid runs out equal, whether their dad is a doctor or unemployed.

“I’ve seen those six kids come through from nappy grade. We gave them their start and they have never forgotten where they came from. It’s wonderful.”

Rabbitohs CEO Blake Solly offered high praise to his six locals and Souths Juniors.

“Souths has always been at their strongest when there is a core group of juniors in our side. We had five in our top 17 for the 2014 grand final and it’s wonderful to now have six in 2021,” Solly said.

“Each of those six are not only great players but fantastic role models off the field.

“They absolutely love playing for Souths and we get a lot out of seeing them make the most of the opportunities the Juniors have provided them and watching them graduate into the NRL team and then play in a grand final.

“Despite all the challenges Souths Juniors have had, if you want to play rugby league in South Sydney, it won’t cost you a cent. The investment by the Juniors over many years is a large part of the success we see on the field now.

“Never once has Souths Juniors flinched. They always stepped forward to continue funding junior participation.”

Other Souths juniors playing NRL include Josh Addo-Carr, Addin Fonua-Blake, Dylan Walker, Cam McInnes, Emre Guler and Nat Butcher.

The perfect farewell? The grand final will be Adam Reynolds’ last game for Souths. Picture: NRL Imagery

The perfect farewell? The grand final will be Adam Reynolds’ last game for Souths. Picture: NRL Imagery

Souths Juniors 2021 Player Stat’s

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Grand final stars come through local ranks in South Sydney Rabbitohs heartland

Grand final stars come through local ranks in South Sydney Rabbitohs heartland

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