South Sydney Rabbitohs five-eighth Cody Walker has vowed to take responsibility for directing the team around after halfback Adam Reynolds underwent knee surgery for an injury suffered in the first half of Saturday's loss in Perth.
Rabbitohs officials expect Reynolds to miss 2-3 weeks after defying the pain of the injury to play the full 80 minutes of the 32-20 round one loss to the New Zealand Warriors.
With teenage Lebanon World Cup representative Adam Doueihi tipped to make his debut against the Penrith Panthers on Saturday, Walker said he was ready to take over the organising duties.
"I have been in the NRL for a couple of years now so It is my time to step up," Walker told NRL.com.
"Me and Reyno have a really good combination and he is the chief playmaker in that combination so I think it is my time to step up and control the team. It is something I need to do this weekend."
Doueihi was a revelation for Lebanon at the World Cup, despite playing out of position in the centres and he scored two tries in the five matches, including one against Tonga in the quarter-final.
After playing in the under 20s last season, Rabbitohs coach Anthony Seibold gave Doueihi a taste of first grade in the pre-season clash with Wigan and centre Dane Gagai believes the 19-year-old is ready for the rigours of the Telstra Premiership.
"He has obviously played for his country, that was in a different role but he has played against the best players that rugby league has to throw at him so he is definitely capable of handling that side of it," Gagai said.
"We just have got to make sure if he does come into the side that we get our edge right and get our defensive patterns right and do everything we can to get our game right."
Gagai, who made his Rabbitohs debut at NRL level in Perth, revealed Reynolds had told him during the game that he had injured his knee in the first half but the Kangaroos star thought little more of it as Reynolds finished the match.
It was only after returning to Sydney on Sunday that concerns emerged about the severity of the injury and he underwent minor clean-out surgery.
"He mentioned it in the game that his knee was a bit sore and there was a specific moment he remembered hurting it," Gagai said.
"To be honest I didn’t think it was as bad as it was because he obviously pushed through and finished the game.
"That just shows the type of character he is, he didn’t want to let his team down and obviously he has had a few problems before but I think he did a great job considering he was almost playing on one leg."
Match: Panthers v Rabbitohs
Round 2 -
Venue: Panthers Stadium
- Fox League
- LIVE PASS
Gagai said losing Reynolds was a blow for the Rabbitohs but the club had depth across all positions and there are other playmaker options besides Doueihi, including fellow rookie Connor Tracey and former NSW Origin hooker Robbie Farah.
"Obviously, he is a big loss for us. He is a great playmaker, he has got great chat and he is an experienced player. He has played at rep level so losing him is obviously a big blow," Gagai said.
"He is also our No.1 goalkicker, but in saying that we have confidence in whoever is going to fit into any role, whether it be in the halves, in the centres or in the middles.
"Everyone has been training well in the pre-season and the players we have to play that position we are confident they will do the job."