South Sydney captain John Sutton wants current first-choice halves pairing Adam Reynolds and Dylan Walker – who are each racing to be fit for this Thursday’s season opener against the Roosters – given until the last minute to prove their soundness.
Sutton has spent the off-season training at lock, with Luke Keary primed to start the season at five-eighth partnering Reynolds. Those plans were cruelled by a torn pectoral suffered by Keary at the Auckland Nines that will keep him out until late in the season.
Another young gun, 19-year-old centre Dylan Walker, has also trained in the halves over the off-season and played there in the Charity Shield. He was also in electric form with the ball in hand in Auckland after a promising debut year in the NRL in 2013.
However, Sutton said Walker injured a hamstring at training recently and with Reynolds also battling a minor knee injury there is a chance neither will take the field this Thursday, potentially leaving Sutton – who starred in the halves alongside Walker in the side’s 38-20 Charity Shield win over the Dragons – little option but to step in to provide stop-gap cover.
“They trained well on the Saturday so they should be sweet but I’m not too sure… we’ll just see how we go at training the next couple of days,” Sutton told reporters on Monday.
“If it was me making the decision [on whether each plays] I’d give them up to the last day. They’ve been training well all pre-season and I’d like to see them get out there for Thursday’s game so if it was me I’d be leaving it all the way up to Thursday.”
In 25 games last year Sutton notched seven tries, 12 try assists, 22 offloads and nine line breaks, while also running for close to 100 metres per game. His career-best form in the crucial pivot role was a key plank of the Rabbitohs’ challenge for the 2013 minor premiership, which they missed out on by a whisker with a Round 26 loss to the eventual minor premiers and premiers, Sydney Roosters.
Sutton said shifting back to the halves wouldn’t be a problem.
“Yeah it’s no drama, I’ve played there a few years now, I’m comfortable playing in the 6 so if I’ve got to play there it’ll be no dramas,” he said.
“It’s not ideal but these things happen in rugby league and that’s just the way it goes.”
Sutton said he was expecting a big game from the reigning premiers following their strong 36-14 win in the World Club Challenge.