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Rabbitohs winger-centre Dane Gagai

The Rabbitohs say James Roberts's arrival at South Sydney can push Dane Gagai to replicate his stunning Origin form at club level rather than out of Redfern.

Wayne Bennett and Souths teammates dismissed a NewsCorp report that Gagai had been agitating for an early release following Roberts's move from Brisbane, which in turn shifts the Maroons flyer to the right wing.

A one-on-one meeting between Bennett and Gagai cleared the air on Wednesday morning, with coach and teammates adamant the Maroons representative is happy to play on the flank despite his preference to start at centre.

Gagai trained outside Roberts on the right wing in the lead-up to the Rabbitohs' clash with Penrith.

It's a combination that could yet bring the best out of Gagai at Redfern, where the 28-year-old has scored five tries in 37 appearances (33 at centre, three on the wing and one at fullback) since arriving last year.

Gagai has more than doubled that tally with 11 tries in as many games for Queensland, with Bennett offering a short "we'd love to work that out ourselves" when quizzed last week on how Gagai goes up a gear at representative level.

Roberts showed promise on his return to the Rabbitohs in their round-13 loss to Newcastle, hooker Damien Cook predicting big things for the speedsters as a right-edge pairing.  

Rabbitohs teammates respond to Gagai rumours

"There's plenty of speed out there," Cook said.

"It's going to be a really good combination moving forward. That's what Dane's spoken about.

"He prefers centre but he's going to be on the wing but he doesn't understand how good he is on the wing. That combination there is going to be a real strength of us."

Gagai may yet get his wish for a temporary start at centre as soon as this Saturday at ANZ Stadium.

Alex Johnston's bid for an early return from knee surgery was boosted as he ran freely during Wednesday's training session, with a call-up for the Rabbitohs against Penrith hinging on how he pulls up from the mid-week hit out.

Should Johnston come in from the extended reserves list to fullback, a back-line reshuffle would likely mean Corey Allan moves to the right wing and Gagai replaces makeshift centre Kyle Turner on the left edge.

But when Braidon Burns returns from injury, potentially against Wests Tigers in a fortnight, Gagai is slated to line up outside Roberts on the right.

Bennett was emphatic in response to suggestions Gagai would push for a release from his Rabbitohs deal, which understands is among the most lucrative in the game for a centre/winger.

"He has refuted the reports and has said he is very happy playing at the Rabbitohs," Bennett said in a Souths statement.

Every try from Round 13

"He has reiterated his preferred position is centre, which he has said to me previously, however, he is happy to play on the wing, or in fact any position in which the team needs him to play.

"He is committed to the club, he loves playing here and he has no intention of leaving the club over next few years as per his contract."

Meanwhile, injured halfback Adam Reynolds says Roberts has returned to The Burrow a different player to the 18-year-old who was sacked over off-field behaviour in 2012.

"He's matured a lot since I last saw him here in Sydney," Reynolds told

"He seems really focused and determined to play good footy and that's all we can ask of him.

"We love having him back here, his personality is contagious. He's always laughing and smiling, he's having fun again and the boys are feeding off him.

He loves playing here and he has no intention of leaving the club.

Wayne Bennett

"I'd say he's matured with his work ethic in training, his will to come in and ask questions, he's getting on that stuff earlier than what he would've done in the past.

"He was pretty shy back in the day but that's pretty natural too. He's played a lot of first grade and Origin now.

"I think putting him in between Sam Burgess and Dane Gagai on the right if that's what Wayne chooses, that's a very handy edge there, especially with AJ looping around too."

The club is still unsure of when Reynolds will return after playing almost a full game against Parramatta with a fracture in his back.

Due to the nature of his injury, once pain subsides Reynolds could be back in "anywhere between two to six weeks", but currently is struggling to pick up his kids or tie his shoelaces due to the injury.

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