Jaxson Paulo's familiarity with his South Sydney teammates gave him the edge over star recruit Josh Mansour in their selection battle for Saturday's clash with Manly at Lottoland.
Souths coach Wayne Bennett gave Mansour the first chance on the wing against Melbourne last weekend but the former NSW Origin representative was dropped after the Rabbitohs' 26-18 loss and Paulo called up in his place.
The 21-year-old was given his NRL debut by Bennett midway through last season and played 13 matches, including Souths finals campaign.
"It was a tough decision to leave him out in the first place so I just reversed the decision," Bennett said.
"There was nothing between him and Josh, but Josh had the experience and I kind of went for that last week but he needs to play more time with us to get used to us and Jaxson knows how we play."
Match: Sea Eagles v Rabbitohs
Round 2 -
Venue: Lottoland, Sydney
Bennett said Mansour and former St George Illawarra second-rower Jacob Host, who was also dropped after his first appearance for the Rabbitohs, would get another opportunity during the season.
However, he also rejected suggestions to start Queensland Origin forward Jai Arrow in just his second match for Souths and the former Gold Coast enforcer will remain on the interchange, along with Benji Marshall.
"I was disappointed with a lot of people last week but I just thought those two players were new players to the club and they will probably take a little bit more time to settle in with us," Bennett said of Mansour and Host.
Sea Eagles v Rabbitohs - Round 2
"Maybe I pushed them in too early so I just pulled them out this week and put two experienced players in who have played with us for the last 12-to-18 months. They can spend more training time with us and there will be more opportunities come along.
"They were very good about it. I think they have been there before. I don't think it was the first time they had had been told."
The Rabbitohs trailed 18-0 when Marshall was sent into the fray as a roving forward 10 minutes before half-time and the veteran playmaker made an immediate impression.
Arrow came on a five minutes later and the pair helped swing momentum in favour of Souths.
"He is fitting into the club and finding his way and I was happy with what he and Benji did off the bench," Bennett said.
"Benji is a football player and you can play him anywhere at any time and he will get the job done. He was good for us last week. We were 18-0 down and I didn't see much point putting a middle forward on so that's what his role was. He helped us enormously and got us back in the game."
Boom forward Keaon Koloamatangi will replace Host in the second row, with Patrick Mago named on the interchange.
Koloamatangi breaks through on the right edge
Bennett said prop Tom Burgess had recovered from a neck injury that forced him from the field against the Storm.
"Our starting pack have got to do better than they did last week and I know they can do that," Bennett said. "The Storm did a good job on us and they were winning the ruck so they dominated that a fair bit."
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