Rabbitohs hooker Damien Cook believes under-fire teammate Latrell Mitchell's fullback transition has shown positive signs already and the big leap will come when the former Rooster builds more confidence and backs himself to run the ball more.
Latrell has faced fierce criticism from commentators including Phil Gould and Braith Anasta, plus former teammate Cooper Cronk, with critics pointing to low run metre totals in particular.
"I think they've been pretty hard on Latrell, not just now but even before," Cook said.
"It's been a tough couple of months for Latrell, media-wise. He's someone that just wants to come to the Bunnies and enjoy his footy.
"At the moment fullback's a work in progress. But to be honest, it's not on Latrell. He almost put Campbell Graham over for an early try on the weekend … he put Jimmy Roberts through for another try.
"He's done some really good things, I think he's building nicely."
If anything the rest of the team is making Mitchell's job harder by not getting on the front foot, particularly in a possession-starved opening to the Brisbane loss, according to Cook.
Cook: ‘We aren’t doing right by Latrell’
"We've just got to keep making sure we stick to what we worked on in the pre-season, get our forwards going forward, building some momentum, and that backline we've got, which is outstanding, we'll give them some good space to run the ball. And I think that's where we'll see the best in Latrell," Cook added.
There have been some calls to shift Mitchell back to the left centre role he dominated during his Roosters career but Cook said that would be completely premature.
"It's only been two games. We're one out of two so I think there's obviously still room for improvement as a team," he said.
"To take him out of fullback right now and put him at centre would probably knock his confidence a little bit. We brought him here to be the fullback, we've seen some good signs and things to work on and that all comes with combinations. I believe it will happen.
"I back him to get the job done and I'm expecting big things, hopefully this weekend against his old club the Roosters."
Mitchell just needs to back himself a bit more, according to Cook.
"Sometimes I think he underestimates how big and strong he is," he said.
"When he does run the ball back from kick returns he makes some great metres and on the end of the shift plays he's got great passing, he knows when to hit the winger and when to run it himself.
"At the moment we'd probably like to see him back himself a bit more and run because we've seen how dangerous he can be with the ball when he backs his ability.
"Hopefully moving forward that's what we see from Latrell. We don't want to put too much pressure on him, we need the forwards doing a great job and it's up to the halves to ensure he gets the right ball and he'll do his thing."