Zane Musgrove of the Rabbitohs prepares to be tackled by Jazz Tevaga of the Warriors.
Zane Musgrove of the Rabbitohs prepares to be tackled by Jazz Tevaga of the Warriors. David Rowland

Rabbitohs pick young prop over England star

SOUTH Sydney coach Michael Maguire has praised young prop Zane Musgrove after choosing the 20-year-old over George Burgess for the Rabbitohs' season-opener against the Tigers on Friday night.

"He's an up-and-coming forward, he's dedicated and works hard off the field and really hard at his game," Maguire said of the rookie, who made his Rabbitohs debut in the corresponding fixture last year before breaking his wrist.

"Having guys like Sam (Burgess) and GI (Greg Inglis) around have really helped him off the field and it's now showing on the field."

Maguire also had some words for premiership-winning prop George Burgess, who did not even make the 17 for the clash at ANZ Stadium.

Burgess, who struggled for impact last year as a result of hip and groin injuries, said he was over those problems but failed to impress in the pre-season and had a poor game in the Charity Shield.

The Rabbitohs coach gave the England international some hope of a return to the team but said it was down to Burgess to prove himself.

"George is still progressing on the back of that injury he's had," Maguire said.

"It's about performance in this club and he knows the areas that he needs to improve on.

"Someone like Dave Tyrell and Zane have excelled in these earlier games.

"Each week we'll look at who we need to carry and this week we've gone with those two boys."

Meanwhile, Wests Tigers coach Jason Taylor has warned fans not to expect too much from Jamal Idris, who is making a return to the NRL for the first time in 693 days after taking a hiatus from the game to address personal issues and travel the world.

Taylor said Idris, 26, had lost 11kg over the summer but was still short of fitness.

"Jamal's done a great job. He's been really energetic around the place, he's happy to be here and we're looking forward to him hitting his straps," he said.

"I think it's fair to say that Jamal isn't right now at a level of fitness that is perfect. We've got some work to do.

"We're ready to start the season, he's ready to start the season. You'll see Jamal hit his straps a few rounds in, I'd imagine."

Taylor said Idris could prove to be the X-factor for the Tigers but he needed time to get himself to that level.

"Our physical performance unit has done really well to get him to the point that he's ready to go for round one," Taylor said.

"They've done a massive job. We're really excited about where he can get to throughout the course of the season.

"All I'm saying is don't expect too much in round one."