Rabbitohs halfback Adam Reynolds is feeling as good as he ever has this late in the season after recovering from a back fracture.
While the injury was untimely - coming at the start of an Origin period in which Souths were heavily represented and carrying other key injuries - Reynolds is now reaping the rewards.
Souths have bounced back from a four-game losing run with three consecutive wins, enough to move them into second spot on the ladder heading into round 20.
"It's [his back] still a little bit sore here and there but we've learned to manage it a bit better, the physios are doing a great job," Reynolds said.
"It's all the hard work behind the scenes you don't see but overall the body's feeling pretty good for this time of year."
The injury came in the loss to the Eels in round 12 via an accidental knee to the back. It fractured the transverse process on Reynolds' L3 vertebra.
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While a fractured back sounds alarming, the transverse process is the small projection or "wing" on either side of every vertebra that attaches the bone to the surrounding muscle, meaning there was no threat to the actual spinal cord.
"At first you hear broken back and you hear the worst but it was never serious enough to be like that, although it is a back," Reynolds said.
"I felt fine and I trust the medical staff and what they were telling me I fully believed. They've done a great job.
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"They basically said it was a pain management sort of thing. We looked at cases in the AFL where some might have played after a week or two and some might not have played after eight weeks.
"It's sort of just getting a balance, not rushing things, we had to let it settle at first. The club was really good, they gave me a week and a bit off, I got to get away with the family and just enjoy the downtime and come back refreshed.
"It plays a part in getting your mental things right as well.
"I'm good now, the body's probably feeling the best it's felt at this time of the year for a number of years now. I'm really excited and looking forward to the back end of the year."
In the round 12 game where Reynolds picked up the injury – and managed to finish the game – he was the only regular first-choice playmaker available thanks to Origin plus an injury to Alex Johnston. The week after, Damien Cook was the only regular in action.
With all three Burgess brothers missing games from round 14 onwards, Johnston unavailable and other players such as Braidon Burns and Kyle Turner also missing, there has been no shortage of disruption for Souths.
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Burns, Turner and Tom Burgess have since returned with Sam Burgess listed to come back for this weekend's trip to Cronulla while Alex Johnston is due back in a week or two. Cody Walker is rediscovering his mojo and the team have now strung three scrappy but important wins together.
"We tested our depth throughout that period and I think it's a good thing to have those players come up and represent us, it gives them a bit more experience in case they're called upon at the end of the year," Reynolds said.
"Every one of us has [playmakers] had some time out of the game whether it be through Origin, injury, suspension, we've all been missing at some point in time and it's only the last week or two we've all been connected and been training together and been on the same page which translates to performances on the park."
Despite their strong position on the ladder, Reynolds said South Sydney's best football was still ahead of them.
"We haven't been playing our best football. That's the pleasing thing – that we know there's a lot more upside in us," he said.