Battle for No.1 jersey heats up at Bunnies training
ALEXJohnston ran onto Redfern Oval for a Wednesday ballwork session in the No.1 jersey.
Or so came the whisper soon after. Which meant only one thing: Cue chaos.
Especially given the fella everyone expected to be inside said jersey, superstar recruit Latrell Mitchell, has made headlines throughout NRL lockdown for rifles, motorbikes, babies and - perhaps, most notably - a potential return to centre.
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Talk which has only grown louder this week after James Roberts admitted himself into a health facility for however long he needs to get his head better.
Which, while far from the most important issue, leaves a space in the Bunnies backline
A truth which brings Johnston - who has played more than a little fullback in his seven NRL seasons - off the Bunnies interchange bench and into the equation, right?
Which again, is why talk of him wearing that No.1 jersey out for training on Wednesday got people more than a little worked up.
But guess what?
"That jersey, it's actually mine," Souths hooker Damien Cook laughed afterwards, via a zoom hook-up.
"That's my training number, but AJ occasionally likes to muck around and take it.
"For most guys, it's the luck of the draw - everyone wears a different number every day.
"But because I'm one of those superstitious guys who likes to wear my number, some of the boys like to joke around, steal the jersey and hide it from me."
So as for who will wear that No.1 jersey when the NRL season recommences?
"Wayne will make that decision," Cook continued, referencing coach Bennett. "But from what I've seen this week, Latrell has been doing everything at fullback.
"So I believe that's where he will be. And I believe he will be a great fullback for us."
The NSW Origin star also revealed the Souths pack had spoken about doing more to help the club's hyped recruit in his move to fullback.
Quizzed on the scrutiny Mitchell would be under when the competition resumes, Cook said: "I understand that - Latrell's one of the biggest names in our game and playing a new position at fullback.
"But what we can do for him is what we didn't do in the first two rounds.
"We didn't play our best footy.
"We didn't play to our structure and we didn't get much go-forward to play off the back of.
"So we weren't able to bring Latrell into the game. Or even have Cody Walker playing off the front foot.
"As a team, we need to get some go-forward and bring those strike players in because we have an outstanding backline.
"We want to get some good momentum and let our halves play off the back of that. It's something we didn't do in the first two rounds."