Maguire gone but not forgotten at Redfern

Michael Maguire not only won an historic premiership at South Sydney, he handed NRL debuts to no fewer than six Rabbitohs who will start against his side on Saturday night.

Maguire was in no mood to reflect on his time at Souths this week – "I'm all about the Wests Tigers now'' – as he tries to stop his old club making it ten wins from 11 starts.

But the coach's legacy has not been forgotten at Redfern, especially by the half-dozen players who were granted their first-grade wish by Maguire.

When Maguire started at Souths in 2012, so did baby-faced rookie halfback Adam Reynolds, as well as young English prop George Burgess. The following season twin Tom Burgess made his Souths debut.


Maguire placed plenty of faith in mature-aged playmaker Cody Walker to get the job done for the suspended Luke Keary in round one of 2016 against the Sydney Roosters, while young guns Cameron Murray and Campbell Graham were the future of Souths; players Maguire would loved to have worked with further had he not been sacked at the end of 2017.

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Graham was still a schoolboy at Marcellin College when Maguire let him know he would make his debut at the SCG on a Friday night against St George Illawarra.


"I'll always be thankful for Madge showing faith in me and giving me my start,'' Graham told the Herald.

"I remember I was studying for a geography exam or something, and once I got the call from Madge the study went out the window.

"I was coming in once or twice a week to train, sometimes during school hours, and the school were good with it.

"Rob Jennings went down with a knee problem, I was fortunate enough to get the call, and he basically said, 'You're in, the boys are psyched you're playing, and I'm excited to see what you can do'. I was blown away. I'll forever have respect for him. He's a great coach and a great bloke. He created a good culture here, there was a lot of discipline, and he left his imprint here at Souths.''

Walker came close to having his first NRL start when he was at the Melbourne Storm, but it was Maguire who handed him his debut at 26.

"He said to me at the start of the pre-season there could be an opportunity there with Luke being suspended for round one, I don't want you to get too far ahead of yourself, and just train hard.

"Then the week leading up to the first game, he gave me the call, but I didn't want to get over-excited. The last time I got the call to debut [in Melbourne], I did my hammy the next day. It would have been round 10, 2014.

"He's been a great help to me and I still class him as one of my mates. I messaged him when he got the job at the Tigers and congratulated him, hoped him and [wife] Joelle and the kids were doing great. He messaged me back and said thanks. He also messaged me after the Indigenous game and said, 'Congratulations on being captain'.

"He's intense but it's who he is. He's successful everywhere he has been.''