The Rabbitohs are set to re-sign a trio of marquee stars, securing the backbone of the club for the long haul.
Meanwhile, doubts have been raised over Reece Walsh’s immediate future and a mid-season switch could be on the cards.
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WALSH’S POTENTIAL HALF-SEASON SWITCH
Warriors star Reece Walsh’s immediate future is in doubt after interim coach Stacey Jones swung the ax and dropped the star to the bench.
Having signed a deal with the Broncos until 2023, the New Zealand club are looking to give other players more starting time.
As it stands, Walsh’s role will diminish after teams pick him in the 19th round, and Michael Carayannis of The Daily Telegraph has made a huge suggestion.
Players have until August 1 to make mid-season moves – and Walsh could be the perfect candidate for a short-term move like that of Tevita Pangai Junior to the Panthers in 2021.
“If that’s the way they’re going to go about it, I wonder if that’s the first sign of Reece leaving the club early,” Carayannis told SEN 1170.
“We have a couple of weeks until August 1st, is this a way for them to save some money and send him to Brisbane earlier?”
“I haven’t had any mail on that but if they don’t play him, maybe he’s surplus to requirements for the rest of the year.
Meanwhile, full-back Craig Bellamy has a sore hand after Ryan Papenhuyzen’s season ended with a knee injury.
Andrew Voss questioned whether Walsh could be a smoker to link up with the Storm for the rest of the season.
“What about the Melbourne connection? Ryan Papenhuyzen is injured,” Voss said.
“It’s completely out of left field and mixing it up a bit, but could Melbourne lift Walsh like Penrith did with Tevita Pangai Jr last season?”
While Grant Anderson is expected to return in round 19, his elbow injury just weeks ago has forced Bellamy to admit the club will be looking for reinforcements.
A number of injuries to their outside backs have left them with the likes of Reimis Smith and George Jennings, meaning Storm bosses may be looking for additional cover.
“It’s not as crazy as it seems because Melbourne is definitely looking for someone from outside,” Carayannis said.
“They’ve had a number of calls to a lot of clubs, ideally for them, he’s just someone who needs a home at the end of the year because he doesn’t have a first-choice full-back cap for the whole year.”
“It’s not out of the realm of possibility.
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RABBITS SET UP TO SECURE THE SPINE
The Rabbitohs are reportedly confident of keeping their trio of marquee players, who are out of contract at the end of the 2023 season.
According to The Daily Telegraph, Latrell Mitchell, Cody Walker and Damien Cook will remain at Redfern – and the reason why Adam Reynolds could leave has been revealed.
Reynolds left the South Sydney club in 2021, with the Rabbitohs powerbrokers allowing their veteran to step down to free up cap space and re-sign their long-term spine.
Souths were heavily criticized for allowing Reynolds, Jaydn Su’A and Dane Gagai to walk, but now the move is set to secure the club’s future.
Between Walker, 32, Cook, 31, and Mitchell, 25, the combined extensions are reportedly worth around $6 million.
As it stands, the Souths No.1 has been offered a three-year extension, while Cook and Walker have been offered two-year deals until the end of 2025.
According to reports, the extensions are far from complete, but the club are confident they can keep the backbone intact for years to come.
Hooker Damien Cook previously revealed he is seeking a three-year extension on the Fox League Podcast in the hope of finishing his career at Redfern.
“I want to finish my career here and I feel like I could play until I’m 35 or 36. I’d like three years and then I’d call it quits just so I could end up at South Sydney,” Cook told Fox League. podcast.
“I’m confident and I take a lot of pride in how I look after myself and I’d definitely make sure I continue to do that.
“I also understand leaving the shirt in a good place, where with the transfer of players that come through, I leave the club in a good position.”
Reports suggest that if the pairing of Walker and Cook continues to work at the end of their new deals, they could be offered another extension.
Cook was an NRL late bloomer and didn’t become a first grade regular until he was 25, meaning he could have been one of the competition’s elite well into his 30s.
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“I feel pretty fresh at the moment and it’s probably because of the late start,” Cook said.
“Also, the transition to playing a lot of reserve where my body was able to adjust to playing against men a lot when I was young.
“I haven’t been beaten in first grade since I was 18 and touch wood without a serious injury in my career.
“I feel really good and I would like to finish my career at South Sydney.
Meanwhile, young striker Lachlan Ilias is also set to receive a contract extension to remain Walker’s long-term fly-half partner.
THE TIGERS WILL BE BACK TOGETHER
The Tigers could put together the full cast of their 2005 premiership-winning team after former captain Scott Prince offered to rejoin the struggling club.
After announcing that Sheens would be taking over with Benji Marshall and Robbie Farah as assistants, Prince couldn’t help but think.
The 42-year-old, who is the only Tigers captain to lift the trophy, currently works for the Broncos as an assistant coach for the women’s team.
However, he has now offered his services for 2023 and beyond.
“The whole band is there — except for the drummer,” Prince told WWOS.
“What we did in 2005 was the highlight of my career and we are all brothers for life.
“I’ve already spoken to Tim about what I could do at the club.
“I still love the Tigers and it hurts to see what they’ve been through the last few years.
“I’m enjoying what I’m doing at the Broncos and they’ve been great to me, but if the Tigers had an opening half-time training session or something, I’d definitely consider it.
Prince also endorsed Sheens as a mentor for Marshall, who is slated to become head coach in 2025.
“Tim is one of the smartest men in football and he’s going to teach Benji a lot,” Prince said.
“These are exciting times and I think it will work well for the club.
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