How good can bad boys be for the Rabbitohs?
A COUPLE of NRL bad boys, making their first top-grade appearance for the Rabbitohs this season, may well have been the catalyst for the premiers finding their mojo a month out from the NRL finals.
Last Thursday night in Townsville, the Rabbitohs threw the proverbial cat among the pigeons with their imposing win over the Cowboys.
And the on-field aggression of Kirisome Auva'a and Paul Carter most certainly played some part in the timely resurgence.
Following another round of topsy-turvy results, for the umpteenth time this season the NRL premiership race has again been thrown wide open.
Despite getting out of jail against the lowly Eels, the Roosters remain the bookies' favourites with just three rounds to be played.
Both the Rabbitohs and Broncos have shortened over the weekend while the Cowboys, after two successive losses, have slipped a cog.
For much of 2015, the form of the Rabbitohs has been queried, in particular the domination of their forwards.
The consensus - and for good reason - was that without Sam Burgess and Ben Te'o, the Rabbitohs had lost much of their mongrel.
But in Townsville, they debunked that myth. They clearly outmuscled the much-vaunted Cowboys pack, and the performance of Burgess twins, Tom and George, prompted some of the Rabbitohs' faithful to even ask 'Sam who?'
But while the big Englishmen were outstanding in the middle, running a combined total of 274 metres and pulling off 55 collective tackles, it was Auva'a and Carter who helped add that missing sting. Sadly though, in the eyes of many, both are lucky to be playing the game.
On the day of the clash, Auva'a was cleared of a NRL-imposed suspension for serious domestic violence.
He had been back in the NSW Cup from June 30 but the NRL suspension, stemming from an ugly incident involving his girlfriend last year, did not actually finish until Thursday.
Carter's career had been in limbo since December after he was sacked by the Titans for two high-range drink-driving charges within six months.
The Rabbitohs threw him a lifeline in June and officially welcomed their second bad egg back into their NRL fold against the Cowboys.
And with Glenn Stewart and Chris Grevsmuhl sidelined and John Sutton playing just 24 minutes, the premiers needed someone to step up and provide some aggression.
But Auva'a overdid it.
He was penalised twice and cautioned once in his comeback game and one incident, where he screamed in the face of an opponent who he had pinned on the ground, was a very ugly episode from a player with a very ugly past.
The question needs to be asked whether Auva'a has actually learned anything from his hiatus away from the game.