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'Energiser Bunny' Taaffe can fill Latrell's big boots

They could have gone with a more experienced option but captain Adam Reynolds is confident rookie Blake Taaffe can fill the gulf at fullback created by the season-ending ban to Latrell Mitchell.

Reynolds all but confirmed the 22-year-old four-gamer would get first crack ahead of the likes of winger Alex Johnston and five-eighth Cody Walker, each of whom is in excellent form in their current positions.

Saturday's game against the Dragons is effectively a free throw at the stumps for Wayne Bennett's side, which is guaranteed to finish second or third and the result has no influence over whether they face the Panthers or Storm in week one of the finals.

"His effort areas are outstanding, second to none in our team," Reynolds said.

"He's an energiser bunny, quick on his feet, he's not afraid to take the line on and he's quick too. He's been training great alongside most of our boys throughout this time we've been up here in Queensland and he's been doing a fantastic job for us."

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Reynolds also felt comfortable dishing his young teammate some public sledging.

"He's not the smartest bloke in the room!" Reynolds continued.

"It's something with all these young blokes these days, they're not real smart between the ears but it's a good quality to have at this time of year, they just get on with life.

"All the young boys that have been in our squad have been fantastic, definitely lightened the mood in the team and they're valuable pieces to have at this time of year."

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Centre Campbell Graham said every time Taaffe had been called upon, he had handled the intensity of the Telstra Premiership.

"We're confident in our whole squad to step up, whoever comes in," he said.

"That's been a real positive for our team this year is whenever anyone across the park has pulled up with an injury or suspension, whoever's filled in has done a great job. We'll just keep going from there and we'll be fine."

Graham urged Mitchell to continue to bring aggression when he returns to the playing field next year despite the controversial suspension.

"I don't want to see Latrell change his game at all," Graham said.

"I love what he brings on the field, I love his aggression and his intent on the field. Sometimes things go wrong on the footy field.

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"Sometimes you're on the wrong end of it and it's a shame, you don't ever want to see anyone from opposition teams get hurt, that's not what our game's about. There is a place for aggression and physicality in our game and Latrell brings that.

"Unfortunately sometimes it goes wrong, no-one wants to see that, I don't want to see that but sometimes that's just how it is.

"Latrell's definitely not the only player who gets it wrong, there's plenty of players in our game who bring that aggression and that's what people love to see and we see it plenty of times throughout the year where players get it wrong, some players might get hurt on the back end of that."

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Reynolds likely won't get a chance to build his own combination with Taaffe ahead of the finals, with the skipper set to rest the knee he jarred against St George Illawarra.

"I just sort of hyper-extended it there. I felt a little something at the back," he said.

"They weren't too concerned about it. I went out after half-time just in case anything happened or we needed to go back on the field. They sort of came back into the game and we thought it would be a good idea to get me back out there.

"My foot sort of slid in the ground then just stopped and my body kept going. It's probably more of a scare than anything else. It's a little tender today but I got through training, it's feeling all OK."

Acknowledgement of Country

National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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