South Sydney record breaker Nathan Merritt is the latest big-name player to experience coach Michael Maguire’s ruthless side by being axed for Friday’s NRL clash with Brisbane at Suncorp Stadium.
Merritt, who broke Benny Wearing’s 81-year try-scoring record when he crossed for the 145th time in Rabbitohs colours against Penrith two weeks ago, has been dropped following last Friday’s 15-14 loss to Canterbury.
The 31-year-old has just that one try to his name in 2014 and will be replaced by Joel Reddy or exciting youngster Alex Johnston who could make his first-grade debut for the Anzac Day encounter.
“We’ve decided to make a change there, we have Joel back and Alex Johnston is in the squad so I will have to make a decision there,” Maguire said.
“It’s purely a decision made on form.”
Maguire has shown he has no regard for reputations with Lote Tuqiri, Beau Champion, Dave Tyrell, Luke Burgess and Ben Lowe all being dropped to reserve grade at different stages this season.
Queensland back-rowers Chris McQueen and Ben Te’o have also had to start games from the bench as Maguire looked to turn his side’s struggling early-season form around.
Despite losing to the Bulldogs following a late field goal from Trent Hodkinson, Maguire says he’s been relatively happy with how his side have performed in their past three matches.
“The last three weeks, our form has been quite good,” he said.
“Prior to that, we were pretty disappointed with our performances. We were unlucky against Canterbury, we had a lot going on the sideline with injuries and, had we been a bit smarter at the end, we could have pulled it off.
“At halftime, I had no one on the bench but the boys put their hands up and almost won the game.”