BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA - SEPTEMBER 24: Cody Walker of the Rabbitohs celebrates with team mates after scoring a try during the NRL Preliminary Final match between the South Sydney Rabbitohs and the Manly Sea Eagles at Suncorp Stadium on September 24, 2021 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

When you think of 'a big three', your mind jumps to Melbourne, and the likes of Slater, Cronk and Smith. Maybe your mind goes to Golden State in the NBA, the big three of Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green, one of the greatest trios in all sports.

Well at South Sydney, they've had to sacrifice one big three, if they wanted to save another.

The Rabbitohs have been scrambling around in an attempt to re-sign key figures in their squad, with their entire spine free to talk to rival clubs as of November 1st this year, leaving their retention team with some work on their plate.

While Lachlan Ilias is in the final stages of a two-year extension, superstars Cody Walker, Latrell Mitchell and Damien Cook are free to leave Redfern at the conclusion of the 2023 season, and are on the verge of triggering a bidding war for the Origin stars.

However, it appears the Rabbitohs have been waiting for this day for quite a while.

In fact, the Daily Telegraph has revealed that the Bunnies let go of a trio of current and former Origin players in Adam Reynolds, Dane Gagai and Jaydn Su'A in order to free up salary cap to lock down Walker, Mitchell and Cook when the moment came.

Finally, that time has come.

The club has come under heavy scrutiny for their retention in recent times, specifically of Redfern junior and club record-holder Adam Reynolds, who departed for Brisbane after the team offered him just a one-year deal in the cardinal and myrtle.

NRL Rd 10 - Sea Eagles v Broncos
BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA - MAY 13: Adam Reynolds of the Broncos runs with the ball during the round 10 NRL match between the Manly Sea Eagles and the Brisbane Broncos at Suncorp Stadium, on May 13, 2022, in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

The moves, while dire at first glance, appear to be paying dividends, the only real question is how long the club is willing to extend their stars for.

Latrell Mitchell is reportedly on the cusp of a wealthy three-year deal with the Rabbitohs, however Souths implemented a 'only a one-year deal for players over the age of 30' rule after the sudden retirements of Greg Inglis and Sam Burgess haemorrhaged their salary cap, a rule that pushed Reynolds out the door.

Early reports are both Cook and Walker, who are 32 and 31 respectively, will be offered two-year extensions, tying the duo to the club until the end of the 2025 season, somewhere the representative hooker would love to hang up the boots.

“I want to finish my career here and I feel like I could play until 35 or 36. I’d love three years and I’d call it quits after that just so I could finish with South Sydney,” Cook told News Corp earlier this month.

The stars would have no shortage of suitors if they did hit the open market, with former Rabbitohs head coach Wayne Bennett sure to be licking his lips on a potential reunion at Redcliffe. The players aren't expected to sign on the dotted line until later this season, with a top eight berth the key focus in Redfern right now.