The 2020 NRL season promises to be one of great change and great expectation for the South Sydney Rabbitohs.
After falling one game short of the grand final in the last two consecutive seasons, the club was been forced to watch on helplessly as cross-town rivals, the Sydney Roosters, took home back-to-back NRL premierships.
They'll be hell-bent on taking that final step this time around.
Making their task significantly tougher will be the retirements of three of South Sydney's greatest players in Greg Inglis, John Sutton and Sam Burgess - a combined loss of almost 800 games of NRL experience.
One familiar face will be returning to Redfern, however, as reigning Dally M Lock of the Year Cameron Murray continues his rise to NRL stardom, fresh from his State of Origin and Australian debuts in 2019.
New episode of the podcast with @SSFCRABBITOHS star Cameron Murray. Cam comes back for a part two as we chat season 2020, Insights into his debut at Origin & Kangaroos and lots of topics from his life on and off the field. Podcast is free to listen at https://t.co/ymjqOnr9Ya #nrl pic.twitter.com/O7Anwmybcd
- Tristan K'Nell (@talkingwithtk) February 18, 2020
Murray is acutely aware of the dearth of experience and leadership Inglis, Sutton and Burgess have left behind in the playing group, but is confident their presence during the preseason will hold them in good stead.
"It's hard, but obviously it's softened the transition a little bit with having all three of them around and pretty heavily involved this preseason in coaching and mentoring roles," Murray told the Talking with TK Podcast.
"It's been an easy transition so far... I don't think the team or the club will feel the full effect of their departure until the season actually starts.
"In saying that we've had Damien, Cody and 'Reyno' (learning) under all three of them for the last four or five years now, so there's no one better to learn off. I think they've stepped up really well this preseason in particular."
As Murray heads into his fourth NRL season and with representative football under his belt, he understands the weight of responsibility that will fall on his shoulders.
"Every year I progress as a footballer... and become more comfortable in my shoes, comes a little more responsibility," he explained.
"I'm still trying to find my voice and figure out how best to lead... in my own way.
"But there's a few forwards coming through with great opportunities now, so there's a lot of space for growth for everyone at the club... everyone's really looking forward to the challenge of stepping up in a leadership role."
He's also no stranger to the NRL media circus that has plagued South Sydney for the second time in two preseasons.
"Obviously the club's been under a little bit (of media scrutiny) because of the coaching saga last year and then Latrell this year.
"It's been two seasons in a row where we've had some pretty heavy media stuff really early in the preseason.
"Once everything gets settled, it gets easier to focus on footy."
As he prepares to shift to the left side of the field for the upcoming season, Murray and his Rabbitohs will be looking to overcome all external pressure as they push on towards a tilt at the 2020 title.
For the full interview visit Talking with TK Podcast