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Put more heat on Cleary or he'll have us cold again: Reynolds

Adam Reynolds wants to see more kick pressure applied to Nathan Cleary after the Panthers playmaker tormented the Rabbitohs' back three with the boot last month.

Reynolds will return to the Rabbitohs line-up this week after he was rested for the side's final regular-season game against the Dragons.

The departing playmaker spent time with the Rabbitohs outside backs at training last week, lofting several spiralling kicks in preparation for Saturday night's showdown with the Panthers.

Cleary recorded a mammoth 844 kick metres in round 23 to turn the match on its head after the Bunnies took a 12-0 lead early.

The Rabbitohs will field a new-look back three for the finals clash with Latrell Mitchell (suspension) and Josh Mansour (knee) missing the rest of the season.

Match Highlights: Dragons v Rabbitohs

Youngster Blake Taaffe was solid in his audition for Mitchell's fullback spot last Saturday but Cleary's eyes would've lit up when the 22-year-old spilled a Corey Norman bomb.

"I think we highlighted that as an area we were pretty poor in on the night. We let Nathan have all the time in the world to kick the ball," Reynolds said.

"A kicker of his class and calibre as a player he's going to nail them nine times out of 10.

"We need to put a bit of pressure on him there and give our back three a better chance at catching the ball.

"It's going to be a team effort to make sure we get that right."

Reynolds said the Rabbitohs will head into the Panthers game with confidence despite being without Mitchell for a second consecutive finals series.

"We learned a hell of a lot out of that [round 23] game," Reynolds said.

"For the first 30 minutes we were doing everything we practiced throughout the week.

"We challenged them in areas that they probably haven't been challenged before and we showed what we were capable of.

"We held the ball and applied pressure and played our brand of football. We got away from that in the second half and made things tough for ourselves. It showed on the scoreboard."

Mitchell's absence is a massive blow but Reynolds is confident 22-year-old Taaffe will stand up to the pressure if handed the No.1 jersey in just his sixth NRL game.

Every try from Round 25

"Whoever is there in any position has a job to do and we've got the belief they can do that job," Reynolds said.

"I thought [Taaffe] was good [last week]. He was popping up in places and always taking the line on and defensively he was always in the right position so he'll get a lot of confidence out of that game.

"He's a talented youngster with a big future ahead of him. He's going to have a lot of voices around him, it's just about which ones he wants to listen to.

"His coaches' opinions matter. He needs to keep doing what he does well and play his brand of football. If he does that I think he'll fit in nicely.

"As a team, we need to get around him and support him through those moments."

 

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