Rabbitohs coach Wayne Bennett was pleased with the impressive debuts of Connor Tracey and Billy Brittain – plus the injury return of Adam Doueihi – ahead of what he says will be a very tough Origin period for the club.
With Damien Cook, Dane Gagai, Cam Murray and Cody Walker involved in the Origin opener on Wednesday and the Bunnies in action 48 hours later against the Knights, Bennett said it's "not feasible" to expect someone like Cook to pump out 80 minutes in the middle twice in three days.
"The issue now is who we rest and when we rest them and how often we back them up," said Bennett, who has more experience than any coach in history at managing an Origin-heavy roster through the representative period.
"This is going to go on for the next six weeks. I think I'll have to (rest players).
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"Damien's going to have to play 80 minutes in Origin, then back up two days later and play 80 minutes for us? That's not going to be feasible to think he can keep doing that for the next six weeks.
"The jury's out at the moment. I just need to see how they play, what the games are like and what sort of mental and physical state they're in when they come back."
Bennett admitted he was still "a bit bitter" at the way the Dragons' 2011 season unravelled under his watch when the defending premiers supplied nine players across the two states in Origin.
The Dragons were top of the table when the Origin series started but had slumped to fifth by the end of the season and limped out of the finals.
"It's not the first time I've coached teams that have been at the top of the competition when we go into Origin, then by the time we come out of it we're in fourth or fifth position," he said.
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"The experience is that anything over four players [makes it hard] after that you're really stretched with your depth and your ability to play the type of football you want so we're on the borderline."
The good news is that with former Blues centre James Roberts to be added to the roster next week and Kyle Turner (toe) and Alex Johnston (knee) nearing returns, there is confidence in the replacement options.
Then there's Tracey and Brittain, who showed they have what it takes to play a role when the big guns are absent.
"Connor was very very good. Exciting to watch. Certainly has a future in front of him," Bennett said.
"He's had a lot of injuries that held him back but to his credit he's carried on and got to that position tonight to show everybody what he can do.
"Billy was really good. Again, a guy we haven't seen a lot of at this stage of his footy career, he had a really good game for us.
"There was a few others out there as well, it was good to have Adam Doueihi back. Everyone knows how much ability he's got, he had to start somewhere and he started first grade tonight so that was a good effort by him."
Bennett had particular praise for Tracey, who has had to overcome some serious injuries in the past and an ongoing AC joint issue this year but had a pearler of a debut in the 26-14 loss with 15 tackle busts and in excess of 200 running metres.
"The bottom line is he's shown everybody what he can do. He's full of energy and effort, he trains like that every day and plays like it on weekends so it's nice for him to get through injury-free," Bennett said.
"He's had an AC joint problem which has held him back a little bit this year but it's not as serious as the other ones he's had."