We look at five burning questions facing the Rabbitohs for Round 9 against the Wests Tigers at ANZ Stadium this Thursday.
1. Reynolds – in or out?
According to this week’s Alcatel High Performance Update, the early signs are positive for Adam Reynolds and his suspected second jaw injury following last Friday’s clash against the Broncos. Reynolds did train today (Monday), but will take recommendations from the Club’s medical team ahead of this Thursday’s game against the Tigers. Should Reynolds be ruled out, Cody Walker – who played a key role for North Sydney’s one-point win over the weekend, would be in the box-seat to come in to deputise.
2. Who will fill the vacant centre spot?
After a solid opening to his Rabbitohs career, Hymel Hunt suffered a pectoral injury during last Friday’s clash against the Broncos, with the centre now set to miss a sizeable chunk of football. The question now is who will take his place? Hunt has been a consistent naming in the centres by Coach Maguire, who will now no doubt look to the likes of former Queensland Origin outside back, Dane Nielsen – who made his Rabbitohs debut last week – Michael Oldfield, and Kirisome Auva’a to fill the spot. The possible return of Test winger, Alex Johnston, could also be a plus for Maguire.
3. Is Round 9 Johnston's Round?
A late withdrawal from the Good Friday game against the Bulldogs with a hamstring injury, Johnston has waited patiently for his opportunity to return to field, and Round 9 could be his week, although the smart money would be on a return against the Eels following the representative round. His eventual inclusion will no doubt serve to bolster the side’s outside back stocks following the loss of Hunt, while also restoring the speed, unpredictability, and safe hands that Johnston has come to be known for.
4. Cook or McInnes?
The plot thickened further at number nine on Friday night, with Damien Cook putting in a solid showing from dummy-half having started the match, while Cameron McInnes this time came off the bench. Both hookers have shown great ability with their differing styles – McInnes regularly racking up huge numbers in defence, while Cook showed plenty of spark in attack, but as with every week. But who will it be this week?
5. How will both teams look to bounce back?
Both the Rabbitohs and the Tigers come into Round 9 having gone down in their last encounters. The Rabbitohs produced an improved showing against the Broncos, while the Tigers were comprehensively accounted for by Canberra to the tune of 60-6. There’s everything to play for come Thursday night as both sides look to put their best foot forward.
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