South Sydney five-eighth Cody Walker has hosed down suggestions the club is in a rebuilding phase under new coach Anthony Siebold and remains confident they can push for the Telstra Premiership title.
Walker finished off a 90-metre team effort in the first half against the Penrith Panthers on Saturday night but it wasn't enough as the Panthers snuck home in the final minutes to snatch an 18-14 victory and deliver the Rabbitohs a second straight defeat.
After finishing 12th the past two seasons, back-to-back losses will only add to the unease in their increasingly impatient fan base as the Bunnies search for early answers.
There is no denying the club has undergone a number of changes – led by the appointment of Siebold, the return of Greg Inglis and arrival of Dane Gagai – but Walker didn't believe the club should be considered in the same position as the Wests Tigers or Newcastle Knights, who have each had large player turnover in recent seasons and have publicly warned fans to remain patient.
"I don't think we're in a rebuilding phase," Walker said after the loss to Penrith.
"We've got the squad to go all the way and we're confident with the squad we have.
"It's just we've got to play for 80 minutes and probably played for 40 [against Penrith]. We did half the job. We know we can play the footy we want to play, we just have to do it for longer periods."
The Rabbitohs lost notable depth in the off-season but under former coach Michael Maguire, they were able to blood promising youngsters Tyrell Fuimaono, Cameron Murray and Campbell Graham in 2017.
Now it seems Siebold is content to bring another new core of talent through instead of using experienced campaigners with Richie Kennar, Tevita Tatola and more recently impressive Lebanon international Adam Doueihi, who was solid in his NRL debut on Saturday night, featuring in the opening two rounds.
Walker has shuffled around in the halves and fullback throughout his two-year career and, with Adam Reynolds out until the end of the month with a knee injury, he is trying to strike up a combination with the 19-year-old to help get South Sydney back into the winners' circle.
"It's obviously not ideal [to lose Reynolds through injury] but Doueihi did a full pre-season with the club and has been here for a number of years now," Walker said.
"We backed him to do his job and I thought he did a fair job. We've had enough time to work on that combination. It started in early December. Reyno missed a bit of the pre-season with his foot so it gave us an opportunity to work together.
"We can take positives out of that game. We needed to be more consistent in the second half to put the game away. He's done the work for us, knows his job. We expect anyone in our group to get the job done."