Dan Walsh, Staff Writer, NRL.com
Michael Maguire's relief at halfback Adam Reynolds' clean bill of health is set to be replaced with one hell of a selection headache as skipper John Sutton also pushes for a return to the Rabbitohs' line-up.
Reynolds has been given the all-clear from Souths medical staff after pulling up lame in Saturday night's loss to North Queensland with a hamstring injury.
Reynolds' history – he tore the same muscle two years ago in the grand final qualifier against the Bulldogs – had officials fearing the worst, but with scans confirming no damage had been done the Bunnies' No. 7 will be available for Thursday's blockbuster clash with the Dogs.
In further good news out of Redfern, Sutton – who has been sidelined for the past four weeks with a knee injury – is also a strong chance of returning for the Round 25 fixture.
Should Sutton prove his fitness, Maguire will need to decide exactly where to play his 29-year-old club captain, who was in fine form playing at five-eighth prior to going down against the Raiders.
Until last weekend's upset loss to the Cowboys, Reynolds and boom youngster Luke Keary had struck up a formidable combination as the Rabbits' halves pairing, engineering a four-game winning streak in which the red and greens pumped out an average of 40 points each outing.
The stellar form of the duo has prompted calls for Sutton to return to the back row, where he last played in the Rabbitohs' clunky 14-10 loss to the Titans before being returned to the halves.
After their next outing against Parramatta, a win which Keary had orchestrated after replacing Reynolds at halfback with the match in the balance, Maguire declared Sutton his first choice for the No. 6 jumper, though Keary has excelled in the position in his captain's absence.
Stand-in skipper Greg Inglis refused to be drawn on where Sutton was best suited to play, though he did admit Ben Te'o's absence through suspension opens up a convenient spot in the pack for Sutton's 105 kilo frame.
"Sutto's a big boy and he runs the ball and he's got the skills," Inglis said. "Either way it's a good headache to have. As long as he's in the side I don't care where he plays.
"We've got Kyle Turner there, we've got Sammy [Burgess] out there on the edge; we've got a lot of back-rowers that we can shift around. With Te'o out and Johnny coming back in it's a good headache to have."
Despite the three-into-two situation the Rabbitohs' halves candidates could well be facing, Inglis praised Sutton's influence on his junior teammates, saying he deserves credit for the duo's impressive form over the past month.
"Just having his presence around helps the halves out," Inglis said. "It's been a good learning curve for Keary and Reyno. Having Sutto in the background and guiding them has shown as our two halves now have really grown in confidence."
"When he does come back, he just brings an aura about him when he's in the side."
A loss to the Bulldogs on Thursday would take the Rabbitohs out of the running for the minor premiership – a gong they haven't claimed since 1989 – and place a potential top-four finish in jeopardy.