Maguire pays tribute to departing half
South Sydney Rabbitohs coach Michael Maguire has spoken for the first time since it was announced Luke Keary would be leaving the club at season's end, telling media that it will be sad to see the 2014 premiership-winning five-eighth leave.
It was revealed on Tuesday afternoon that the Roosters had signed the 24-year-old on a two-year-deal starting in 2017.
Maguire said he would have liked to have kept Keary in Redfern beyond 2016 but conceded salary cap pressures had played their part in the decision.
"All those great players that you have let go of at some stage; it's about the salary cap and what goes on in club land," he said.
"Luke and I have talked about him staying but also the opportunities for him to leave, and for various reasons he's chosen those.
"I think for Luke it's going to be great that he can just settle down for now and focus on his footy.
"For us – and for the players – they understand the process around what goes on in club land. It's nice to think that Luke can put that aside and really focus on his footy."
Maguire said that with the contract talks finally put to bed, Keary and the club could finally move on leading into this Friday night's game in Penrith.
"He's a real character inside our team and he adds a lot to what we're doing," Maguire said.
"I've been able to put him back to the bench at some stages and he's come out of dummy-half, he's played in the halves and shown the form that he's capable of playing.
"He's been a big part of us for a long time and he's looking forward to Friday. We've given him the opportunity to play in the halves with Adam [Reynolds] and push 'Greggy' (Greg Inglis) on his outside so I'm sure he'll enjoy doing that."
The decision to reunite Keary with Reynolds in the halves means Inglis will play at left centre for the Rabbitohs for the first time since Round 2, 2012.
The Maroons and Kangaroos star has primarily been used at fullback since then, but has worn the No.6 on his back for the past four weeks.
Inglis was shifted to the left edge during the Round 10 win over the Parramatta Eels and seemed to flourish with the extra space, playing a big hand in South Sydney's second-half comeback.
Maguire wouldn't confirm nor deny whether Inglis would see out the rest of the season in the centres.
"We'll see how we go on Friday, and if the plan that the players are putting together is played out, then I'm sure Greg will play some time in the centres," he said.
"We've also got the ability of putting him at five-eighth if need be.
"The style of which we're playing is going to allow him to get the ball a little bit wider as we've seen over the last couple of weeks with him playing at five-eighth and also when we moved him a little bit wider against Parramatta three or four weeks ago. He jumped into the centres and came up with some great plays."
Inglis and his teammates will need to be at their best on Friday night if they want to overturn a run of three consecutive defeats.
The Bunnies now sit in 13th place on the NRL Telstra Premiership ladder and could find themselves six points adrift of the top eight if results go against them this weekend.
It's unchartered waters for Maguire and the club as a whole, but the Rabbitohs coach believes the game against the Panthers is a wonderful opportunity to test their resolve.
"It's a good chance to test our character and who we are as a team," he said.
"Every team wants to be at the top and we're doing exactly the same. There are still massive opportunities in this competition. It's well and truly alive so it's in our hands."