BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 16: Adam Reynolds of the Rabbitohs passes during the round 23 NRL match between the Brisbane Broncos and the South Sydney Rabbitohs at Suncorp Stadium on August 16, 2018 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

Sunday's grand final is going to be a ripper. I'm on record as predicting a field goal is kicked two or three minutes before the final siren.

There are so many similarities between these sides.

Two sets of New South Wales Origin quality halves. Brutal, aggressive forward packs. Try-scoring outside backs. Benches that would walk into starting sides elsewhere.

I've dissected the one on one battles on and off the field but there's one major difference as we head into the 2021 decider.

One side looks to be at the end of their premiership window.

I don't think I'm offending too many fans of the South Sydney Rabbitohs by suggesting that this is their best chance to claim a title.

As soon as the siren sounds on Sunday night, no matter the result, the Bunnies will say goodbye to two of their most important pieces when it comes to the premiership puzzle.

There is no secret that Adam Reynolds is leaving the club he would have represented 231 times.

ADAM REYNOLDS
Halfback
Rabbitohs
2021 SEASON AVG
0.3
Try Assists
0.2
Tries
313.8
Kick Metres

When you think of modern South Sydney you think of Greg Inglis, Sam Burgess, John Sutton and you think of Adam Reynolds.

Reynolds had been the heart and soul of the Rabbitohs for as long as I can remember. He wore the seven the last time the Bunnies were in the grand final in 2014.

His kicking game has all but dictated the way South Sydney have played their football as long as Reynolds has been the man in Redfern.

I absolutely love the look of Blake Taaffe. He is going to be a fantastic halfback for many years to come but Adam Reynolds is at the very elite level.

He lives and breathes South Sydney.

The fact that both the Broncos and the Sharks chased Reynolds for multi-year and multi-million dollar contracts says it all.

Both required a marquee halfback to be the future of their club for the next three-plus seasons.

Taaffe's career will reach incredible heights. If it peaks at even a third of the success enjoyed by Adam Reynolds then both player and club will be very, very happy.

That said, this is Adam Reynolds. You simply cannot replace him overnight.

His departure completely shifts the responsibilities, especially in the halves. Cody Walker immediately becomes the main man. That could completely shift his tactics and it's a game as to whether that assists or hinders.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - SEPTEMBER 20: Cody Walker of the Rabbitohs celebrates scoring a try with Dane Gagai of the Rabbitohs during the NRL Semi Final match between the South Sydney Rabbitohs and the Manly Sea Eagles at ANZ Stadium on September 20, 2019 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)

Also leaving the club are Queensland rep regulars Dane Gagai and Jaydn Su'A.

How do you replace Gagai? Braidon Burns could slot in as the next cab off the rank, however he is being linked with a post Grand Final move to the Sharks.

The Bunnies couldn't afford to match Newcastle's offer for Gagai but you have to imagine that loss still stings.

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Jaydn Su'A has surprisingly been in and out of first grade across this season. At his very best he walks into the QLD side. At his worst he was New South Wales Cup level.

The good players peak at the right end of the season. Su'A has. He moves to the Dragons in the best form he has shown this season.

He is likely the most replaceable of the three players leaving, but in the short-term, there's a certain dip in quality.

Reynolds though is the key. He leaves as that window closes. It doesn't shut but it closes more than half way.

The move though that closes the bunnies premiership window, at least in the short-term, is that of Wayne Bennett leaving his role as coach.

I fully understand that Jason Demetriou is the heir apparent. The man Bennett has anointed the next coach.

The man Bennett has taken under his wing and mentored for this very moment.

South Sydney Rabbitohs Training Session
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 09: Rabbbitohs assistant coach Jason Demetriou talks to Rabbitohs head coach Wayne Bennett during a South Sydney Rabbitohs NRL training session at Redfern Oval on March 09, 2020 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)

As the old saying goes; Bennett may have taught young Demetriou everything Demetriou knows. He can't however ever teach him everything he (Bennett) knows.

Bennett has taken the Bunnies to two preliminary finals and a grand final in his three seasons.

The same South Sydney who were, earlier this season, beaten 50 points to nil and then 56 points to 12 in the space of two rounds of football.

A lesser coach pulls what little hair he has left out as the bright start his side enjoyed slips away following two such horrible results.

Souths have peaked at the right end of the season. Their only loss since that aforementioned 56-12 (to Penrith) coincidentally came to Penrith in Round 23.

Since that loss the Bunnies have beaten the Roosters, Dragons, Penrith in the first round of the finals, then they flogged Manly in the prelim.

Bennett is arguably the best coach of the modern era. He's undoubtedly the most successful.

You simply cannot appoint a rookie coach and expect him to be Wayne Bennett over the space of one off-season.

Bennett and Reynolds are so very important to the success the Bunnies have enjoyed in recent times. To take both of those major pieces off the board is just too much.

The Bunnies premiership window shuts this Sunday night at full-time. Luckily though, my guess is that they'll be celebrating it with the The Provan-Summons Trophy.

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