The South Sydney Rabbitohs are set to begin the new season with Lachlan Ilias as their key man in the halves to replace Adam Reynolds, while a two-pronged solution has been proposed to replace Dane Gagai.
While Reynolds has been the signature which most have steered too when talking about the fortunes of the Rabbitohs for 2022, Gagai, a Queensland State of Origin representative who has joined the Newcastle Knights, was a crucial part of the Rabbitohs' dominant left edge in 2021.
Rabbitohs coach Jason Demetriou has told Fox Sports however that Jaxson Paulo has been training in the centres and will likely edge out Taane Milne for the spot, with Milne then to fight Josh Mansour for the vacant wing position which Paulo occupied last year.
“Jackson Paulo is training the house down at the moment. Taane Milne is just back and starting to get into it as well, so they are going to push each other for that role.
“But there is also a couple of kids led by Terrell Kalo Kalo, who I’m sure will get a chance throughout the year to impress in the NRL.”
“I’m a big fan of Josh Mansour. I think what he does at the back of the field will be a real benefit for us.
“The transition to South Sydney was a tough one for him last year, so we are happy to have him here settled now and we think we can get his best footy out of him.
Demetriou said he doesn't see Taaffe as a half though, with Ilias to get the nod. Taaffe will start the opening rounds at fullback for the suspended Latrell Mitchell, before a likely scenario has painted him with a move to the number 14 jersey.
“Lachlan has been great,” Demetriou said.
“We haven’t had to do too much because Lachlan spent three months with the boys in Queensland last year.
“That was probably a really good grounding for him. He obviously finished the season playing the Dragons in that No.7 role and played really well.
“So that all added to him coming in pretty confident.
“But Dean Hawkins has been training the house down as well.
“He is a kid we have invested in the last few years so we have got a couple of good young options there.
“The biggest worry is whether we can get them through the rigours of an NRL season with the amount of footy that the players have missed outside of the NRL over the last couple of years.”