Adam Reynolds says he is happy to run the ball more often to help ignite the Rabbitohs' backline. Credit: NRL Photos Copyright: NRL Photos
He has been lauded for his kicking game since making his NRL debut last season but South Sydney halfback Adam Reynolds is now hoping to run his opponents ragged as the Rabbitohs look to claim their first minor premiership in 24 years.
Reynolds starred in Souths’ 30-10 win over Parramatta last Sunday in the absence of State of Origin quartet Greg Inglis, Nathan Merritt, Ben Te’o and Chris McQueen – his brilliant solo try in the second half earning strong praise from coach Michael Maguire who noted the rapid improvement in his running game this season.
And the 22-year-old this week confirmed it was no coincidence he was taking the line on more, with running the football the focus of his attention in 2013.
“I’ve been working on it at training and trying to focus on running the ball at the right time,” Reynolds told NRL.com in the lead-up to their clash with the Raiders at ANZ Stadium on Friday night. “I think it’s been coming along nicely the last couple of weeks. I still want to improve other parts of my game but I see that going in the right direction.
“The big thing for me has been picking and choosing the right times to run. A few times I ran the ball earlier on in the year when it probably wasn’t the best time in the game – last tackle or similar stuff to that. So it’s picking and choosing when to run. That also comes with confidence. Once you start running the confidence comes along with it.”
Reynolds has typically left the running to halves partner John Sutton, who is in career-best form this season with an average 12 runs and 106 metres per game. But he said the pair had been working hard on alternating their roles.
“Sutto was mainly the reason why I wasn’t running as much earlier on,” Reynolds said. “He has 10 to 15 carries a game. There is a lot of organisation that needs to go on when he runs so if we’re both running the team sort of gets lost a bit. So you’ve just got to pick your times.
“We try to complement each other. If he is running I take over, if I run he takes over. It’s a balance that we’re working on at training. Luke Keary has stepped in and is doing a fantastic job for us there too so he is another link for us to work with.
“The good thing with [Sutton] is that we’re starting to get more comfortable with each and we know the pros and cons of each other. I think we’re coming along nicely and we’re only going to get better.”
Last weekend’s win over the Eels means Souths now sit three points clear at the top of the NRL ladder and on course to finish the regular season out in front for the first time since 1989. Ironically, Reynolds wasn’t even born back then.
But having grown up in the area and watched on as a frustrated fan through all the tough times in between, he admitted he was proud to be playing his part in the club’s dramatic resurgence.
“It’s a dream come true,” he said. “Everyone in the area is very passionate and proud of Souths and to give them something to hope for and look forward to every week is special. My family still lives in Redfern, they love South Sydney and they are always happy when Souths are doing well. It gives everyone in the area something to look forward to.
“There have been a lot of dark days over the years but ‘Madge’ (Maguire) has come in and turned the club around and pointed us in the right direction. Everyone is on board now and we’re looking forward to the rest of the year.”
The Rabbitohs welcome Canberra to ANZ Stadium on Friday night for the first time since they ended the Green Machine’s 2012 campaign in Week 2 of the finals last year – a game that also happened to be South Sydney’s first finals win since 1987.
Yet as memorable as that night remains, Reynolds said it would count for nothing this time around.
“That was last year and we’ve both got different teams now so we’ll just be looking to get back on the horse,” he said. “They had a tough loss last week but they’re a team full of class and they’ll be very dangerous. They’ve got Reece Robinson at the back there and he is a very dangerous player. He can turn things on and off so we’ll have to be on our game.
“We know that everything we’ve done to this point can crumble in the space of a few weeks so we’ve just got to keep working hard every week.”