South Sydney’s run to the NRL finals is on a knife edge after star halfback Adam Reynolds was forced to stay on the field in the loss to Melbourne despite carrying a painful back injury.
Wounded halfback Adam Reynolds will have further scans on a painful back injury that is now threatening to derail South Sydney’s charge for a top four finish.
The Daily Telegraph can reveal there is even a concern the injury may not be the original back fracture Reynolds initially suffered two months ago.
Although he played out Sunday’s 26-16 loss to Melbourne at Central Coast Stadium, Reynolds was in severe discomfort and only stayed on the field because Souths didn’t have remaining interchanges.
With only four rounds of the regular season remaining, the last thing the Rabbitohs need is to have their star halfback spending more time on the sidelines, especially given Manly and Parramatta are both within one win of the fourth-placed Bunnies.
It’s no secret Reynolds has been playing in pain since he suffered the back fracture in the round 12 loss to Parramatta before the opening State of Origin.
The fact it doesn’t seem to be improving is a real headache.
Wayne Bennett revealed post-match that Reynolds wasn’t even able to train with the team at Saturday’s captain’s run.
The injury overshadowed a much improved performance from the Rabbitohs who pushed the runaway competition leaders despite missing inspirational skipper Sam Burgess.
Cody Walker produced his best game since Origin, playing a hand in all three tries scored by Campbell Graham.
The Rabbitohs had trailed 12-0 after as many minutes but fought back to 12-all and then 20-16 before the Storm sealed victory with a 77th minute try.
STORM SURGE CLEAR
Three weeks ago Phil Gould said he didn’t see Melbourne winning this year’s title because he didn’t think they had “another gear”.
Well, Craig Bellamy agreed that the Storm will need to find another gear – but the master mentor believes his players have it in them.
Bellamy labelled the four tries to three win “our best effort performance of the year”.
Cameron Smith and Cameron Munster led the way in another super impressive performance given the Storm were missing Jahrome Hughes, Ryan Papenhuyzen and tearaway super sub Brandon Smith.
Smith and Munster put on a masterclass and around them the Storm played with energy and intent, despite at one point copping nine straight penalties against them along with having Felise Kaufusi sin binned for a professional foul.
“I just said to the players that I thought it was probably one of our better wins of the year because of the circumstances,” Bellamy said.
BUNNIES “A LIVE THREAT”
Bennett has coached enough premiership winning teams to know what it takes to stand up in the big end of season games.
He conceded last night that if his team would have turned up and dished out a similar performance to the lacklustre effort that was on show against Cronulla last week, he probably would have thought they would be going into the finals just to make up the numbers.
But given the change in attitude without Burgess, Braidon Burns and Alex Johnston, Bennett can see that he has a live threat. Now they are just hoping Reynolds will be okay and Sam Burgess can return from the quad injury that ruled him out this week and show that his shoulder injury is also not ongoing.
CAM’S CRACK AT COASTIES
A packed house was yet another message to the NRL bosses that the forgotten heartland on the Central Coast still love their rugby league.
The crowd of 19,533 even upstaged the 19,530 who turned up in Canberra to watch the Raiders play the Sydney Roosters.
Given it was a Rabbitohs’ “home” game, it’s no wonder the big crowd in Gosford was behind the Bunnies – and they gave it to Cam Smith every chance they got.
When he left the field at halftime it was to a roar of boos.
For his part Smith played the game, chuckling as he walked into the tunnel: “I’m glad you paid your way in because you’re paying my wages”.
To his credit Smith stuck around post-match for more than half an hour on the field as he gave out autographs, interviews and even some smiles.
MELBOURNE 26 (J Bromwich B Croft C Munster J Olam tries C Smith 5 goals) bt SOUTH SYDNEY 16 (C Graham 3 tries A Reynolds 2 goals) at Central Coast Stadium. Referee: Gerard Sutton, David Munro. Crowd: 19,533