In what can be seen as the only positive to come out the Rabbitohs' huge 30-12 loss to the North Queensland Cowboys on Monday night, Michael Maguire believes South Sydney duo John Sutton and Dylan Walker are close to a return for the reigning premiers.
With South Sydney set to take on a highly confident Sharks outfit next Monday, the Rabbitohs will require all the cattle they can muster considering they have won only one of their past three games in comparison to Cronulla's two consecutive victories against the Roosters and Newcastle.
While John Sutton was named to play against the Cowboys last week, after suffering a broken jaw against the Roosters in Round 2, he didn't run out to face the Townsville-based club on Monday night with Glenn Stewart taking his place in the halves.
Centre Dylan Walker, who played through the Rabbitohs' clash with the Wests Tigers in Round 3 with a broken hand, is also touch-and-go much according to Maguire.
"We'll have to assess [John Sutton] throughout the week again, similar to what we did in the lead-up to this game," Maguire said immediately after the loss to the Cowboys.
"He is getting better so time will tell with that. We thought he was going to play but the scan unfortunately showed he hadn't progressed as far as what they were happy with.
"Obviously with a broken jaw, once you do the x-ray they can assess that, but the doctors are pretty confident he's getting close.
"[Dylan Walker] is in a similar situation to John. We need to assess that too. Some bones heal a little bit quicker [in the hand than others] so we'll have to assess that through the week."
Regardless, Maguire was obviously disappointed with how his team travelled without Sutton, Walker, and halfback Adam Reynolds, though wasn't prepared to use it as an excuse.
Instead Maguire identified Johnathan Thurston's first try of the match, which came from a huge Gavin Cooper line break just 30 seconds into the second half, as the turning point of the game. South Sydney had been leading 12-10 at the time, but with that try the Cowboys went on to score 26 unanswered points.
"I think it showed in the second half how one play can change an entire game very, very quickly," Maguire said.
"I think the effort the boys put in, in the first half, we scored some great tries and great defensive efforts but we didn't back it up in the second half and they are definitely things we need to look at.
"It was just a simple marker movement there and we were burnt. They came off kick-offs too, and it happened twice, so it was very uncharacteristic of our team.
"We pride ourselves on making sure we are doing all the little things correctly within games and obviously that's the big lesson for us this week. Especially when you're playing a team like the Cowboys, with the players like they have throughout their forwards."