Rabbitohs happy with halves switch-up
Michael Maguire's decision to bench Adam Reynolds last week with the game in the balance may have sent the rugby league rumour mill into overdrive, but his Rabbitohs teammates fail to see what all the fuss is about.
With Souths clinging to a 16-12 lead over the Eels last Friday night, MaGuire's call to replace starting halfback Reynolds' in the 64th minute first raised eyebrows, then paid immediate dividends when Luke Keary laid on a try with his first touch of the ball before two late tries wrapped up the 32-12 win.
Rumours that Reynolds was first on the outer at Redfern, then wanted a clear-the-air meeting with Maguire over his future, and by Monday was in talks about extending his contract with the Rabbitohs all took flight within 72 hours of the win, which firmly entrenched them in the top eight and snapped a worrying two-game losing streak.
As the Bunnies prepared for their trip to the nation's capital for Monday night's clash with the Raiders however, prop George Burgess said the halves switch hadn't come as a surprise to the side at all, and that if Reynolds was upset by the substitution as reported, then it hadn't shown around his teammates.
"No, I see (the switch) every week in training," Burgess said.
"They're always swapping around and mixing it up. It was just a bit of a rest for Adam and gave Keary a bit of a crack. He did great when he came on and it was good for the team.
"Adam's been sweet, it's not affected him at all. I don't know why people are making such a big deal out of it; we see it every week in training. There's nothing to worry about for him."
As Maguire continues to tinker with his attacking structure over the final third of the season, dummy-half Issac Luke even hinted that Reynolds had trained at hooker at times in 2014, and that he would have no issues if asked to make a similar switch during a game.
"We've got three great halves and we've obviously got to give them all a shot," Luke said.
"We're happy with how they're all going.
"Adam's had a little run at hooker (at training) and he'll go great. Whoever Madge throws out there we'll be happy with how they go."
Coming off the back of their last-start win over Parramatta to face the 15th-placed Raiders, who are out of finals contention and have only registered a single win in the last two months, shapes as a potential banana-peel for a Rabbitohs outfit bound for their third successive finals appearance.
Souths' last Monday night fixture produced the side's worst performance of 2014 – a fumbling, bumbling 14-10 capitulation to the Titans – but Burgess is confident the memory of another disappointing showing, a 30-18 loss to the Raiders in Round 4, would ensure the Rabbitohs are at their best come kick off.
"They came out firing and we were off that game so we've got a lot to make up for from the last time we met them," Burgess said, before adding that the Rabbitohs had been their own worst enemy in conceding four tries to nil in the first half of loss.
"We threw away the ball and gave too many penalties and gave them too much possession. You can't do that against any team in the NRL because it'll sting you."