Having been caught in the swirling winds of South Sydney’s off-season turmoil, playmaker Luke Keary has landed on his feet and declared himself ready to fight for his spot.
Under the spotlight after a torrid couple of months amid rumours of unrest, Keary enjoyed a positive first game back from suspension as he helped pilot the Rabbitohs to a 48-6 NRL thrashing of Newcastle on Saturday.
With pressure on him to keep his place in the side following the emergence of Cody Walker, Keary has been linked with a move to St George Illawarra or rugby union.
While he has played down a move back to the 15-man code, which he played as a junior, other clubs are watching with interest as he battles Walker to retain his spot.
With halfback Adam Reynolds (broken jaw) out injured, Walker and Keary have been pitted in a two-way battle to see who will stay in first grade upon Reynolds’s return in five weeks.
They combined superbly as they clinically pulled apart the Knights’ defence but one will have to miss out once coach Michael Maguire has all hands on deck.
Rumours of a rift with Maguire and an ugly spat with club co-owner Russell Crowe have plagued Keary in the off-season but after coming off ANZ Stadium with two try assists and showcasing his outstanding kicking game, the Ipswich-born half was holding his head up high.
“I’ve had a reasonably good off-season behind closed doors with the all the work I’ve done so I felt physically and mentally really good,” Keary said.
“I know the work I’ve put in and it was good to get out there and have a bit of fun.”
While Keary was a part of the Rabbitohs’ historic 2014 premiership-winning team, Maguire could give no guarantees he would still be in the side upon Reynolds’ return.
To his credit, the 24-year-old is relishing his head-to-head duel with Walker and the chance to prove his worth.
“I think it’s really healthy in your squad, having people putting pressure on people and giving Madge headaches,” Keary said.
“Obviously Adam (is) injured (and) we’ll try to get a bit of a combination over the next month or two and see what happens.”
For the time being, Keary was relishing the chance to play in his preferred position of halfback.
“I’m more an actual halfback than I am a five-eighth, I played it more when I was younger so I felt more comfortable there,” he said.
“I felt like I just did my job there tonight.
“I’ve done a lot of work on my kicking the last couple of years and I don’t get to show it too much when Adam’s there, he takes most of the kicks.”