Adam Reynolds’ surprise early return from a broken thumb will place pressure on NSW halves Mitchell Pearce and Trent Hodkinson should they fail to fire on Wednesday night in State of Origin II.
The South Sydney halfback made an earlier-than-expected comeback in his side’s 34-6 loss to the Wests Tigers on Friday night at ANZ Stadium after being restricted to just two appearances in the past nine weeks.
Reynolds was being considered for a NSW Origin spot earlier in the year after finding sparkling form in the first four rounds.
Going into the Rabbitohs’ now infamous Good Friday clash with Canterbury in April, Blues coach Laurie Daley said he was following Reynolds closely.
However, the playmaker limped off the field late in the game with a knee injury after being hit by James Graham as he kicked and was subsequently ruled out for the next three games.
He returned against St George Illawarra and, after the game, spoke about his hopes of earning an Origin jersey during the 2015 campaign, only to find out later he had played the entire second half with a broken thumb.
If the Blues lose to Queensland at the MCG, Daley could consider blooding Reynolds in Game III with the series already decided.
“(Reynolds) has been training throughout the week and he’s been doing a lot of training in the background as well,” South Sydney coach Michael Maguire said.
“The doctors thought it was a good opportunity this week to utilise him and it’s good to have him back. We get back some of our combinations that we’ve practised quite a lot early on in the season.”
While Reynolds failed to make an impact in his return, he was playing behind a badly beaten South Sydney pack, with the Tigers making 1647 metres to the Rabbitohs’ 1306.
“We probably didn’t give ourselves a lot of chances there tonight,” Maguire said.
“We probably played a little bit too lateral, side-to-side, rather than our style of through the middle.
“We got plenty out of that game.”
After having their three-game winning streak snapped, South Sydney captain John Sutton labelled the side’s performance against the Tigers as not up to their usually high standards.
“We prepared well all week; we just didn’t show it out there,” Sutton said.
“It’s very disappointing. It’s not acceptable for us and we’ll look at it at training this week and go from there.”