Adam Reynolds has given the Rabbitohs 10 seasons of loyal service and helped deliver them a drought-breaking premiership in 2014 but it may not be enough to secure him a long-term deal beyond this season.
Reynolds turns 31 this year and is keen to sign a three-year deal that would ensure he finishes his NRL career as a one-club player but the Rabbitohs have so far only offered the playmaker one year.
The contract stalemate doesn't seem to be affecting Reynolds' performance so far in 2021 but it's a situation both club and player will be keen to resolve.
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Souths should sign Adam Reynolds to a long-term deal
For – Martin Lenehan (NRL.com senior journalist)
Loyalty counts for very little in rugby league these days when it comes to contract negotiations as players chase the best deal and clubs try to juggle their salary cap.
The NRL is big business and you can't blame players or clubs for being ruthless at the negotiating table but in the case of Adam Reynolds, the Rabbitohs need to find a way to reward him for a decade of devotion to the jersey.
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It hardly seems unreasonable that a bloke who has played 209 games in the cardinal and myrtle and spearheaded their charge to an emotional premiership in 2014 is asking for a three-year deal that would most likely be his last in the NRL.
As team-mate Cody Walker so succintly put it on Monday, "he is our captain, he is the heart and soul of South Sydney now that Sutto [John Sutton] is gone. He is a local junior and fingers crossed he stays here".
It's a fair bet that a majority of Rabbitohs fans agree with Walker and would like to see the quintessential Redfern boy finish his career in their colours rather than those of a rival club.
Apart from the premiership in 2014, a season in which he contributed a career-high 221 points, Reynolds has steered Souths to the past three preliminary finals - no mean feat in the salary cap era.
Reynolds' game management and radar boot have been pivotal to the Rabbitohs' sustained period of excellence and the halfback still has plenty of good footy in him if the opening three rounds are any indication.
With Reynolds and Walker calling the shots and Latrell Mitchell, Dane Gagai and Alex Johnston feeding off their quality service, the Rabbitohs look every bit a top-four contender again so why would club officials risk rocking the boat by dudding Reynolds?
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One of the game's foundation clubs has a golden opportunity to go "old school" and show that loyalty isn't dead in rugby league.
As one of only six men to have played more than 200 games for the Rabbitohs, Reynolds has earned the right to push his career tally towards 300 and farewell his beloved Bunnies at the end of 2024 in second place behind only the aforementioned Sutton.
Against – Paul Zalunardo (NRL.com senior journalist)
No-one can deny what Adam Reynolds means to the Rabbitohs or doubt he is worthy of a new multi-year deal in the NRL.
The problem South Sydney have is that if you look into the future, the club probably doesn’t want both their star halves beginning to decline in performance and ultimately say goodbye to the game within a year or two of each other.
Reynolds is 30, a year younger than Cody Walker.
As good as they both are now, Father Time is starting to walk towards them.
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In a just world, the veteran No.7 would play out his days at the Rabbitohs and say goodbye to the game being chaired from the field by the likes of Latrell Mitchell, Walker and Damien Cook.
But any sport that has a salary cap isn’t just. It brings with it harsh decisions that result in frustration and sometimes tears.
That may be just the road Reynolds is heading down.
Maybe Jason Demetriou, who will take over from Wayne Bennett in 2022, has identified a younger player at the club who can step in. Maybe he has identified someone at another club who can be secured on a cheaper deal and still offer what Reynolds is expected to in the coming years.
Smart clubs are always thinking ahead and perhaps what we are seeing here is South Sydney’s plan playing out in real time.
The one-year offer that has been made is still sitting on table but starting to gather dust.
While Reynolds’ kicking game has been imperious so far in 2021, the spark Walker has lit with the likes of Mitchell, Dane Gagai and Alex Johnston on the left edge has been the talk of the NRL.
Nobody (except for fans of the 15 other teams) wants to see anyone messing around with that combination. Leave them to keep causing headaches and scoring tries.
After his side’s win over the Roosters on Friday night, Reynolds reiterated that while he wanted to stay at Souths he doesn’t want a one-year deal and has to put the financial future of his family first. A smart approach.
Just as he is doing the right thing for himself, South Sydney want to avoid tying up a fair chunk of their salary cap on players approaching the twilight of their career.
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Ideally, South Sydney and Reynolds will reach an agreement and the union can continue.
If not, Reynolds will have no shortage of suitors willing to offer the security he wants from his next contract.
Either way, the undying love of the South Sydney faithful should remain with Reynolds forever more.
Should the Rabbitohs offers Reynolds a long-term deal?
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The views in this article do not necessarily express the opinions of the NRL, ARLC, NRL clubs or state associations.