Burns the secret behind Reynolds' form surge
A commanding performance from Rabbitohs halfback Adam Reynolds in a huge 42-14 was sparked from an unlikely source: rookie winger Braidon Burns.
Reynolds has been good in patches this year without showing the sort of dominance he did in the 2014 premiership year or even the type of form that earned him an Origin debut last year but he was outstanding against the Panthers, kicking for four tries and two line drop-outs and running the ball well for four busts.
It prompted his coach Michael Maguire to describe it as Reynolds' best effort of the season.
Speaking to NRL.com after the game, Reynolds said his pinpoint kicking game was the result of some long afternoons at training alongside Burns.
Burns had a torrid time last time Souths played the Panthers, tormented by a series of floating Nathan Cleary bombs in just his fourth top-grade start. Souths clung on to win that game 21-20 but Burns lasted just one more week in the top grade before being demoted.
After serving some time playing for the Bears in the Intrust Super Premiership, Burns returned to the top grade in the Round 15 win over the Titans and played strongly before bagging a key try from a Reynolds kick in Sunday's win over the Panthers.
Reynolds was typically reluctant to accept any praise even after such a commanding display with the boot, that also included a perfect seven from seven conversions.
"It's something I'm continually working on at training but a lot of credit probably has to go to Braidon Burns," Reynolds said.
"He's always nagging and nagging me at training to do extras with him and for a young fella that's what you want."
Those extras include helping Burns work on a weakness Cleary exploited last time with the high ball, as well as adapting to scoring the type of leaping try from cross-field kicks that earned the youngster his four-pointer on Sunday.
"We've been practising those cross field kicks. He got a chance [on Sunday] and he got one so a lot of credit goes to him and a lot of hard work behind the scenes there," Reynolds added.
"He's a confident kid and he's got the world at his feet. I think the world of him and not only on the field but off the field. He's definitely had some challenges [in life] and that's a reflection of what a person he is and it's great to see him being rewarded for hard work."
Reynolds' coach had an easier time praising the halfback's performance than the man himself.
"I thought that was Adam's best game this year," Maguire said.
"He's had some really good moments throughout games but I was really pleased for him.
"He's been working hard at his game and he's got the rewards off the back of the hard work he's been doing in the background."
Both Reynolds and Maguire felt it was the best team performance of the year, sparked in part by a strong last-start win over the Titans in Round 15.
"We grew against the Titans in our attack, a lot of confidence was taken out of that game," Maguire said.
"It came into our attack [Sunday], the boys pushed hard and worked hard for each other. It's something the boys have been building for quite some time. Now it's about consistency in how we do that."
Added Reynolds: "Overall as a team I think it was our best performance for the year.
"Many individuals probably had their best game. That's our standard now, we've got to live up to that and obviously we've got a short turnaround coming up against the Roosters. No doubt we'll get back to training and take what we can out of this game and move on."
The Rabbitohs still need, in probability, six wins from their final nine games to have a chance at finals footy but Reynolds hoped with momentum on their side they could make a run.
"There's a few teams scraping the bottom of the eight there and if we can string a few together it will lodge us right in there. The boys are confident and getting the job done," he said.