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Adam Reynolds is set to receive a hero’s welcome when he runs out against his former club for the first time in Brisbane colours at Accor Stadium on Thursday night – but he can expect a less friendly reception on the field.

Reynolds, the Broncos captain and star playmaker, is a favourite among Rabbitohs fans after playing 231 matches in 10 seasons with the club and helping them to a premiership in 2014 and last year’s grand final.

However, Souths loyal members and fans never got the chance to farewell the 31-year-old as the 2021 competition moved to Queensland due to COVID and his last match was the 14-12 loss to Penrith at Suncorp Stadium.

Reynolds missed the eagerly anticipated round one clash with his old team-mates after contracting COVID but they will finally be on the same field together again when he goes head to head with former partner in crime Cody Walker.

Adam Reynolds and Cody Walker before the 2021 grand final
Adam Reynolds and Cody Walker before the 2021 grand final ©Grant Trouville/NRL Photos

While there won’t be any formal tribute to Reynolds by Souths, a spokesperson for The Burrow said: “From reading comments from fans it seems the majority will definitely give him a good reception. It's sad to see him gone but we get to now see the next chapter".

Rabbitohs players don’t begrudge the support for Reynolds from their own fans, with many remaining close to him, despite his move to Brisbane.

Newly appointed captain Cameron Murray said Reynolds had congratulated him after he was given the job by Souths coach Jason Demetriou, while team-mates are bracing themselves for the on-field banter with their former leader.

“He said congrats, he was happy for me. It was good to get a message from Reyno,” Murray said. “He didn’t give me any advice but he just made sure he congratulated me, which was special.

“Souths fans are pretty loyal and Reyno is definitely one of their favourite sons so I think he will get a good reception.

“It doesn’t matter what jersey he is wearing I think I will get a pretty receptive welcome from the Souths members and fans.”

Star winger Alex Johnston, who is closing in on the 1908 foundation club’s try-scoring record, said he would be ignoring Reynolds in the lead up to the match but was also sure the Rabbitohs fans would pay tribute to him.

Return of Rendiggiti: Reynolds philosophical ahead of reunion

“I am sure there will be sort of a send-off for him, it is obviously a home game so there will be plenty of home fans and I am sure the crowd will give him a nice cheer,” Johnston said.

“I am not going to talk to him until we play. I will give it to him after we win. He is a pest, and I can pretty much guarantee he will say something to try and get under the boys’ skin and have some words with Cody.

“It will be very interesting to see how they go because they are on the same side. I think it will be more out of jest to start and then it could accelerate.”

Asked about the match up between the former long-time halves partners, Murray said: “It could be anything. Cody is one of the biggest and most passionate competitors I have ever played with or against.”

Return of Rendiggiti: Reynolds philosophical ahead of reunion

While the Rabbitohs are more familiar with how Reynolds plays than his new team-mates, they also know he will be the player they need to stop to prevent the Broncos claiming three consecutive wins after beating Canterbury and Cronulla.

“He is a great player and he has obviously added a lot to their game, especially the last couple of weeks when he has been on fire,” Johnston said. “I am looking forward to coming up against him and trying to stop him.

“For my whole career I have pretty much had him kicking to him at training so I know what to expect.”

Prop Tevita Tatola said the Rabbitohs forwards would need to apply pressure to Reynolds, with Jai Arrow expected to target him when he kicks.

“Reyno has been playing good footy, we obviously know how he plays so we will be looking to get stuck into him early,” Tatola said.

“His kicking game is a big part of their game, so we are going to have to put some kick pressure on him and try to stop him that way. It is going to take a big effort from everyone.”

After eight games as captain, Murray said he was feeling comfortable in the role but admitted it would be “weird” performing the pre-match coin toss with Reynolds.

“I just know that myself, Reyno and both teams will be doing the best for their club, and they will be putting aside any emotion that might come with coming up against someone who has had a 10-year career with this club,” he said.

“I learned a lot from all my captains, not just Reyno but he was a captain who led by his actions, not necessarily his words, and that is something I am trying to pride myself on.

“It is something I learned from Reyno and something I think is probably the most important quality in a leader.

“I know he is doing it up there too. He has been leading from the front for the last couple of months so we are going to have to be really good to beat them.”

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