“Our physio is in contact with their physio. I’m pretty sure they won’t name the team until [Tuesday morning], which gives him plenty of time to get some testing in … and for the physios and Latrell and the club to make a decision in consultation with the NSW boys.”
Mitchell pulled up with tightness in his calf at the end of the Sunday training session before game one in Adelaide. He was in tears when informing his Blues teammates the following morning he was a late scratching.
Murray, whose importance to the Blues is at the very least on par with Mitchell, injured his groin last week.
Damien Cook is one South Sydney player who looks destined to return to the NSW fold after Api Korioisau suffered a broken jaw on Thursday night.
Souths also have centre Campbell Graham and back-rower Keaon Koloamatangi in contention for a place in the Blues squad. Should Mitchell be ruled out, Graham will be in a four-way centre shootout with incumbent Stephen Crichton, Kotoni Staggs and Matt Burton.
As for the debate about who should wear Nathan Cleary’s No.7 jersey, Demetriou nominated former Bunnies favourite Adam Reynolds.
“I’d be picking Adam every day of the week,” Demetriou said. “They need someone familiar with Queensland. I’d pick Adam to play with Cody, I’d pick Adam to play with [Jarome] Luai, I’d pick Adam to play with [Nicho] Hynes.
“Adam is a genuine No. 7, has a great kicking game, he’s a strong defender and is comfortable up there now – that’s his home. He’s the best option they’ve got.”
Souths are yet to have a bye and will do well to notch a tenth win in 15 games against the Dragons before enjoying a spell.
Dean Hawkins has been parachuted in to replace Walker in the halves.
Why Bunnies playmaker will not disappoint
Dean Hawkins made a name for himself when, after his South Sydney debut in 2021, he required 15 stitches to a nasty knee gash suffered while trying to jump a fence and celebrate with his mates after full-time.
Hawkins is a Matraville Tigers junior who, at 24, has made it clear Souths is where his heart is.
He was on a $1000-a-week deal last year before being reinstated to the top-30 squad this year. He does not have a contract beyond this season. Two Sydney clubs inquired about taking him on for the remainder of this season only, while Super League clubs have had him on their radar for a few years.
Only last week Souths coach Jason Demetriou told Hawkins he had been playing well, to stay patient and that his time would come.
“Funnily enough, a week later he’s playing first grade,” Demetriou said. “I’m really comfortable with Deano. He knows the game inside out and, for me, he’s the best halfback outside the NRL who isn’t playing regular NRL.
“He’s a South Sydney junior, loves the club, we’re definitely keen on keeping him. Sometimes guys who are sitting behind other guys are looking for opportunities, and this is a good opportunity for Deano to put his hand up.”
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