Rabbitohs back Kelly for halfback spot
New recruit Luke Kelly looks set to make his Rabbitohs debut this Friday night with Adam Reynolds recovering from a bout of appendicitis that could see him miss the first month of the Telstra Premiership season.
It's the latest setback for the star halfback who was a late scratching from South Sydney's Auckland Nines squad with hamstring tightness that also ruled him out of the World All Stars side.
The 26-year-old missed eight matches last season, with the Bunnies managing just two wins in his absence, while he also missed Game III of last year's State of Origin series with a shoulder injury.
Teammate Sam Burgess said the injury was a shock to everyone, especially given how well Reynolds played in the Charity Shield win over the Dragons earlier that week.
"We were sat in a meeting one morning and he didn't look too well so we sent him off. Later that day he was in a bit of trouble. His spirits are high and he's on the road to recovery so that's the main thing," Burgess said.
"He came in this morning to sit through a few meetings. He's okay. Obviously we'll miss him, but we've got some players who can come in and do a good job. It's another good opportunity for someone else."
Just who replaces Reynolds is the million-dollar question four days out from South Sydney's season opener against Wests Tigers at ANZ Stadium.
Burgess wouldn't speculate on Reynolds's replacement, but when pressed further on the matter hinted new recruit Luke Kelly would likely get the nod.
Kelly has played 47 matches in eight seasons at the Storm and Eels and is the sort of game manager who will complement the electrifying Cody Walker in the halves.
"The coach will do that job. I'm just a player. Whichever way he goes, we'll be comfortable with the team," Burgess said.
"Luke Kelly is an out-and-out seven so I would imagine the team will look that way. We'll train today and wee what happens, but a like-for-like swap is what I imagine will happen."
Veteran John Sutton is another option to slot into the halves; a position he has played 179 times for the Bunnies throughout his 13-year career in the NRL.
The 32-year-old revealed he hadn't spent any time during pre-season training in the halves, and while he'd be more than happy to reacquaint himself with the No.6 jersey, Sutton backed Kelly for the role.
"Luke Kelly has been training there so that's another option for Madge (Rabbitohs coach Michael Maguire)," he said.
"He's played there all his life and he's been really good this pre-season.
"If he puts me back there, I've played there a lot so I don't mind going back to play in the halves. Whatever happens, I'm easy either way."