GOLD COAST, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 19: Anthony Milford of the Broncos looks dejected during the round two NRL match between the Gold Coast Titans and the Brisbane Broncos at Cbus Super Stadium on March 19, 2021, in Gold Coast, Australia. (Photo by Matt Roberts/Getty Images)

Jason Demetriou has big shoes to fill at South Sydney after the departure of coaching legend Wayne Bennett, but the 45-year-old is confident in his squad.

In a recent interview with the Daily Telegraph, Demetriou revealed that his 2022 squad is starting to take shape, with a new recruit poised to fight for Adam Reynolds' now vacant No.7 jersey.

Cody Walker, a star five-eighth, will stay where he is, according to Demetriou: “Cody will wear the six. His role won’t change. He will stay where he is.”

That leaves former Bronco Anthony Milford gunning for the halfback role against young guns Blake Taaffe and Lachlan Ilias. Milford, who signed a one-year deal with the Rabbitohs after failing to obtain a new contract from Brisbane, hasn't spent much time in a starting halfback role throughout his career, but Demetriou is confident he has a role to play in the team.

“First and foremost it is about getting him here and happy and pushing for a starting spot, I am sure that is what he wants,” Demetriou said.

“But he knows he has got a bit of work to do to get that.

“We have good options with Milford, Ilias and Taaffe as well. So they are things that we will explore during the pre-season.

“I think it is just up to us to find what suits Milford best and how those partnerships work and then playing a style that suits it.

“It is not a matter of him coming in and trying to be an Adam Reynolds and that is the same for Lachie.

“Pre-season will give us a chance to have a look at them both and work in with Cody and Cookie and see what works best.”

Milford, who is facing court next month on assault charges, has made 193 NRL appearances since debuting for the Raiders in 2013, but has found himself out of favour in Brisbane in recent years. The 27-year-old's fresh start may be spurred on by Demetriou, who is hesitant to throw his young halfback prospects into the deep end too quickly given Covid disruptions over the past two years.

“The downside of those guys coming through, Dean Hawkins is another one on our books next year, they haven’t had much footy over the last two years,” Demetriou said.

“So this next pre-season is going to be important to them and the type of things we do on the training field will be important as well.

“But it is a big ask for young halfbacks.

“What I have noticed over the last few years is some young halfbacks have come in too soon, and I am committed to Lachie and Taaffe having a career at the Rabbitohs, not just playing a few first grade games.”

It is speculated that Taaffe will take up the utility role in 2022 after a strong showing in 2021 during Latrell Mitchell's suspension, but both he and Ilias have experience in the No.7 jumper. With all three potentially contending for a starting role, Demetriou has big choices looming over his first year as coach, something he sees the upside in.

"It is a good problem to have." Demetriou said.

Follow Zero Tackle on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for more of the latest rugby league news.