Bunnies looking to replace backbone - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Bunnies looking to replace backbone

By Ben Horne 21/07/2010 05:59:44 PM Comments (0)

South Sydney captain Roy Asotasi said his team has lost its "backbone" following news fellow prop Luke Stuart will miss the rest of the NRL season with a broken hand.

Stuart is the lone survivor from the struggling days following the Rabbitohs' readmission to the league in 2002 and has been the heart and soul of the club since then.

Asotasi admits Stuart's injury is a massive blow to their finals hopes but says his club must and can move on.

"He's been the backbone of the side. Obviously he does a lot of work for us, hit ups, tackles, he's going to be sorely missed and I haven't had the chance to speak to him but I'm sure he'd be pretty disappointed," the skipper said.

"Luke Stuart does play a big part and he's been one of our best players over the past two or three seasons so I don't know how we're going to make up for that but everyone's just got to pick up.

"We have the luxury of moving Sam Burgess up to the front row.

"So he's been doing a tremendous job and then you can bring guys like Michael Crocker or Eddie Pettybourne onto the edge to cover for him so I guess that's the best thing about our squad this year is that we do have a lot of depth."

Should they make the top eight, Souths are in far better shape for a premiership tilt this year than they were when they last qualified for the finals in 2007.

However, after two consecutive last-minute losses and with Stuart's injury adding to that of Test hooker Issac Luke, the Bunnies now find themselves with a fight to even feature in the post-season.

"We understood the two months were going to be solid, that we were playing all the sides that were in the top eight," Asotasi said.

"Those two losses I felt like we were close but we didn't come away with it.

"We've got seven more tough games to go and we've got to focus on that.

"The game of rugby league you do get injuries but we were just hoping we didn't get too much. We've been pretty fortunate this year but losing Issac and Luke Stuart at the business end of the season is a bit tough."

After an injury-marred past two seasons, Asotasi is getting back to his best at the right time of year and is ready to lead his team well into September.

"It's been an up and down season for me especially for the first half, having a couple of injuries," he said.

"Obviously that's all past me now and I can concentrate on the seven games we have left."

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