Alex Johnston's stocks as a first grade fullback continue to rise thanks to the help of South Sydney Rabbitohs captain Greg Inglis, even if he will eventually reclaim the No.1 jumper from him.
Johnston was arguably the Rabbitohs' best in their 34-6 demolition of Manly on Saturday night, running for over 200 metres as he finished with a try, two assists and a knockout victory in his head-to-head battle with fellow flyer Tom Trbojevic.
Almost 100 of those metres came in one scintillating length of the field effort after cleaning up a Daly Cherry-Evans grubber, one of several plays where Johnston's defensive positioning came to the fore.
Rabbitohs coach Anthony Seibold has previously declared Inglis will move back to fullback when the superstar skipper feels he is ready.
But three games into his return from an ACL rupture at centre, Inglis backed Johnston's continued improvement as his eventual fullback successor.
''We've worked with him since we transferred him back there and he's improving each and every week,'' Inglis said of Johnston.
''Round one he wanted to put to the side and he improved last week, and now he's just getting better.''
Asked about his expected return to the No.1 jumper, which would shuffle Johnston back to the wing, Inglis said: ''We'll sort that out when the time comes. But at the end of the day AJ is there at the moment and we're going with that.
''We're set in our positions at the moment and it was a good performance by the boys tonight that we need to back up next week.''
With a traditional Good Friday blockbuster against rivals Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs looming, Seibold has little time to dwell on his first win as an NRL coach, which he referred to as a ''monkey off my back.''
The Rabbitohs' gradual improvement across the first three weeks of the competition has the rookie coach in good spirits, after a surprise first-up loss to the Warriors and last week's surrendering of a 14-0 lead against Penrith.
''We showed glimpses in round one, our attack was really strong and last week in the first half defensively we were really good,'' Seibold said.
''We didn't give ourselves a chance in the second half last week. But this week it was a pretty comprehensive performance by the guys … it was really pleasing that we improved on both sides of the footy.''