Cook hunts Tigers down but Souths lose more troops
DAMIEN Cook tore the Tigers apart in South Sydney's 32-16 victory but Origin, and more injuries, could force the Rabbitohs to field part-time players in the coming weeks.
Already in the midst of an injury crisis with ten players out, South Sydney could now lose their five biggest names with Damian Cook, Cameron Murray, Cody Walker and Dane Gagai all in line for State of Origin and Adam Reynolds leaving ANZ Stadium on crutches.
With 10 players already out injured before Reynolds went down with a suspected broken leg, Rabbitohs coach Wayne Bennett admitted he would struggle to find a team to take on the Eels.
"It is not going to be easy,'' Bennett said.
"But we will worry about that later. We have a lot of players missing
"We will just have to keep on digging and find another player. Someone will get an opportunity and they will get the job done.''
In a heartbreaking moment that could have cost Reynolds a NSW recall and South their star playmaker, the Rabbitohs No.7 suffered a suspected fractured fibula in a first half collision with teammate Mark Nicholls.
Helping set-up the 36-16 win that kept the Rabbitohs on the top of the table by scoring a sole try and setting up another, Reynolds will have X-rays today to determined the extent of the injury.
Following the flying start inspired by Reynolds, Cook and Murray, Souths fought off a spirited fightback by the West Tigers to claim their 10th win of the year.
"I am pleased with they we are going,'' Bennett said.
"And they way were are going about it.
NOTHING TO LOOK FORWARD TOO
With up to 15 off his players set to be sidelined or unavailable next week, it was little wonder that Wayne Bennett did not want to talk about next week.
"Why do you guys all want to worry about next week,'' Bennett said.
"Why don't we just get the night over with and we will see what we have got in the morning and talk about it next week.''
Expected to lose Cook, Murray, Walker and Gagai to Origin and Reynolds expected to join the likes of Alex Johnston, Braidon Burns, and Kyle
Turner in the sidelines for up to six weeks, Bennett will be hoping he can find the players to stop a South Sydney free fall.
South may be forced to dip into the $300,000 worth of salary cap cash free up by Greg Inglis' retirement just to field a team.
He waited 20 months for his shot and revenge - and left empty ended.
In his first match against South Sydney since being sacked in 2017, Michael Maguire failed to inflict defeat on his former club when the Tigers were outclassed by South Sydney.
Trailing 14-0 after Reynolds dummied his way to the tryline to make it a perfect start for South Sydney, Maguire was given hope when Corey Thompson and Esan Marsters when back-to-back to make it 14-12.
But the man who broke South Sydney's 43-year premiership drought when he delivered them a fairy-tale title in 2014 was delivered a homecoming defeat with errors ruining a second half comeback bid.
"This is my club now,'' Maguire said.
"I had a lot of special times with the (Souths) boys but I am here now. I have put that part of my life behind me. I have a really good bunch of boys and we just have to stick with what we are doing.''
SOUTH SYDNEY 32 (C Murray 2 D Cook L Knight A Reynolds tries D Gagai 3 A Reynolds 3 goals) bt WESTS TIGERS 16 (B Marshall E Marsters C Thompson tries E Marsters 2 goals) at ANZ Stadium. Referee: Gerard Sutton, Liam Kennedy. Crowd: 18,195