The controversy engulfing South Sydney and John Sutton has galvanised the club in their NRL premiership defence, according to newly-installed skipper Greg Inglis.
Inglis will also lean on Sutton for support as he grows into his role as the Rabbitohs captain, saying the man who led South Sydney to their drought-breaking premiership last year remains a leader at the club.
Sutton was last month stripped of the captaincy, in part over an incident during a pre-season trip to the US which is being looked at for a second time by the NRL’s Integrity Unit.
Sutton was arrested alongside then-teammate Luke Burgess, who has since signed with Manly, following a night out while in Arizona for a pre-season training camp.
The 30-year-old has gone to ground since details of his wild night emerged just over a week ago, but Inglis insists Sutton’s standing amongst the Rabbitohs playing group hasn’t wavered.
“If anything it’s actually brought us closer together,” Inglis said ahead of South Sydney’s World Club Challenge clash with St Helens on Monday (AEDT).
“We’re not too concerned or worried about what’s going on.
“We know what we hold each other accountable for and we look out for each other.
“That’s what teams do.”
Inglis takes great pride in taking over the captaincy of Souths, but insists he will only be able to become a great leader if he has the support of the right people and Sutton is at the top of his call list when he has a question to ask.
“That’s what great leaders have, they have the right people around them,” he said.
“I’m not saying I’m a great leader, but I’m working towards that.
“I need to grab the right people that I see fit to help me. Johnny Sutton is definitely one of them.
“Sutto and I are extremely close. We talk a lot, probably a bit too much, outside of footy.
“Sutto has put that aside and he’s concentrated on footy.
“That’s just the way Johnny Sutton is. Over the years he’s grown into a mature leader and as a person as well.”
Inglis’ first assignment as captain of Souths is to return to Australia as world champions, and the brilliant fullback is aware of the magnitude of the occasion.
“Individually it’s a big occasion for me,” he said.
“But we’ve got to look at the bigger picture (and) it’s all about the team.”