SUNSHINE COAST, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 13: Damien Cook of Rabbitohs runs the ball during the round five NRL match between the South Sydney Rabbitohs and the New Zealand Warriors at Sunshine Coast Stadium on April 13, 2019 in Sunshine Coast, Australia. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

The South Sydney Rabbitohs are reportedly ramping up talks to secure the long-term future of Lachlan Ilias despite Thursday night's horror show which saw him hooked against the St George Illawarra Dragons.

The news surrounding Ilias comes with the club also grappling with the decision over whether to re-sign Damien Cook and Cody Walker, who are both off-contract at the end of the 2023 season.

Cook has been on a long-term deal, while Walker, 32, signed a one-year extension to remain with the club for 2023 on November 1 last year - the first day he could have received offers for the 2023 season from rival clubs - effectively snubbing former South Sydney coach Wayne Bennett and the Dolphins in the process.

Despite that, the club are now unsure about both he and Cook, with South Sydney's form taking a major hit this year.

Cook in particular has stiff competition in the dummy half role, with Peter Mamouzelos - who played junior football alongside Lachlan Ilias and Blake Taaffe for the club, snapping at the under pressure NSW Blues' Origin hooker's heels.

News Corp's Brent Read told Triple M that Mamouzeols needs game time, but that the Rabbitohs still want Cook contracted beyond the end of 2023.

“What makes it really interesting is they’ve got a young kid Peter Mamouzelos who has got huge raps on him at hooker,” Read said.

“He came through with Lachlan Ilias and Blake Taaffe. I suppose Souths have to juggle Cook’s long-term future with not stopping Mamouzelos and his development.

“Souths want to keep him [Cook] so they will start those negotiations next week but it will be interesting to see how it plays out,” Read added.

“Obviously with Souths you saw what happened with Adam Reynolds. They didn’t want to block Lachlan Ilias’ path and Cook is sort of in a similar position. It’ll be intriguing to see how that one plays out.”

Meanwhile, News Corp are reporting that the Rabbitohs are still hellbent on securing Adam Reynolds' long-term replacement Ilias to a longer deal.

It's understood the club have tabled a deal which would keep him at Redfern until at least the end of 2025, with CEO Blake Solly saying they were hopeful he would elect to stay.

“We are hoping Lachie commits to the club long-term,” Solly said.

“We see him as a huge part of our future and he has bright future with the club. He came through our Jersey Flegg and NSW Cup system.

“Lachie is well liked by everyone at the club and we have made it clear we want him to have a long-term future here.”


  1. Maybe I’m missing something here. The talk last year was:

    a) Reynolds was too expensive to keep for 2022 & 2023

    b) Souths would need the money to keep Walker & others. That seemed to make little sense given that Walker, Cook, Mitchell, Burgess and Murray were all tied up to the end of 2023 or later, and South had no rising superstar who would need a big upgrade in 2022 or 2023. Ilias was already contracted until end of 2023

    What has changed ? Nothing that I can see. Mamouzelos is contracted until the end of 2024 and Souths has tabled a new contract to Ilias to cover 2024 and 2025.

    The crunch for Souths has always been that Walker, Cook, Mitchell and Burgess come off contract at the end of 2023. At the start of the 2024 season Walker will be 34 , Cook 31, Mitchell 27 and Burgess 31.

    Mitchell is young enough to warrant keeping (but his ego will demand a million a year). Walker will be too old to expect a contract of more than 12 months from any other team, so Souths could probably hold him for less money for 2024. Burgess isn’t playing well enough to warrant keeping.

    If Souths want to keep Cook then they could use the Burgess money to retain him and re-purpose him as a Brandon Smith style “half-Hooker-half-general-purpose-forward”, or maybe re-purpose him as a Cody Walker replacement. I don’t know how well that would go, but surely that has to be worth considering if they are bent on keeping him at Redfern?

  2. WHOA! Hit too quickly……

    The point I was leading up to is that Souths have a new long-term 7 in Ilias, have a new long-term 9 in Mamouzelos, and have options for 1: either Mitchell or Nikorema. What they do not have is a credible long-term 6. That is what they should be worrying about.

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