Adam Reynolds has avoided surgery and a feared six-week lay-off due to a thumb injury, but the Wayne Bennett will still have to pull several Rabbits from his hat to cover $3 million of sidelined star power against Melbourne.
A specialist consult on Monday cleared Reynolds of requiring an operation on a the thumb ligaments damaged in last Thursday's win over Canberra, with a return as early as next week on the cards for the star No.7.
"[Reynolds] is not going to require surgery... once that joint is stable in the thumb then he's good to go," Rabbitohs head of high performance Jarrod Wade said on Tuesday.
"It's a bit of an unknown time frame for him at the moment. It could be as quick as two weeks, it might be delayed out to a month, we're hopeful it's closer to the two-week mark for Adam."
Reynolds will join Cameron Murray (ankle) and Latrell Mitchell (suspension) on the sidelines for the Storm clash.
While Reynolds received a welcome downgrade to his initial recovery timeframe, Murray and centre Campbell Graham (broken hand) are both out for the next month.
Match Highlights: Raiders v Rabbitohs
Young winger Jaxson Paulo (fractured wrist) is also out for up to eight weeks, the Rabbitohs outside back stocks have been stretched to breaking point.
Off-season recruit Josh Mansour remains laid low by a hamstring issue, while journeyman centre Tautau Moga is midway through a four-game ban for dissent towards an official in reserve grade.
The Rabbitohs bulging casualty ward leaves Bennett with several clutch decisions to make out wide.
The biggest query rests with shifting Cody Walker into the halves alongside veteran Benji Marshall to play Alex Johnston at fullback, or bringing rookies Troy Dargan or Dean Hawkins in to keep Johnston on the wing.
In any case Steven Marsters and veteran centre Taane Milne loom as other options to fill the wing spots, while Braidon Burns made a successful return from injury last week in NSW Cup.
Get Caught Up: Round 8 must-see moments
His first game in 300-plus days after suffering a ruptured patella tendon has Burns in contention to replace Graham at right centre.
Up front, Tevita Tatola is expected to return from a head knock that kept him out of the Raiders clash, leaving the likes of Liam Knight and Jai Arrow as lock replacements for Murray.
Hame Sele and Patrick Mago are the other possibilities to be added to the bench.
The Storm clash kicks off a mighty month of May at Redfern, with bumper games against Cronulla, Penrith and Parramatta leading into the Ampol State of Origin series period and a round-13 bye.
Mitchell will return from his four-game ban for the Panthers clash, but Reynolds, Murray, Graham and Paulo are unlikely to be sighted until mid-June.
Murray has at least avoided surgery on his grade-two syndesmosis tear. Paulo is due to have a pin set into his thumb this week after fracturing his wrist against Canberra, while Reynolds and Graham played through the pain of their injuries.
Reynolds' positive news on the injury front comes with his long-term future in limbo after Cronulla and Brisbane made him their No.1 recruitment target.
NRL Round-Up - Round 8
The Bunnies' blows come as Damien Cook and Storm hooker Harry Grant square off in a battle that is almost certain to transfer to the Origin arena in a month's time.
Grant is odds on to reclaim the Queensland No.9 jersey and spoke on Monday about how his NSW counterpart had sought him out for a post-game chinwag after a Rabbitohs-Tigers clash last season when he was on loan at Concord.
"He was great last year. The thing I liked about Damien was that just having a chat with him after the game, he was so friendly," Grant said.
"He had a bit of advice and we had a chat about footy and life.
Every try from Round 8
He's a lot quicker than me. As far as a running dummy-half he's definitely the best in the game.
"I've got to change a few things around my game - I can't base it solely off what he does - but I can take parts and build on it.
"I'm not trying to compete against Damien, I'm just trying to contribute to the team but he's such a weapon for them he will certainly feature in a lot of our reviews this week."