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Souths can win title without Latrell, insists skipper Reynolds

Reynolds said Mitchell’s replacement, 22-year-old Taaffe, did not have the same reputation or physique, but would more than excite fans over the next month.

Taaffe will play just his fifth NRL game against St George Illawarra on Saturday night as a host of players, including Reynolds, Cody Walker and Damien Cook, are given the week off.

Four-game wonder Blake Taaffe will wear the No 1 for Souths.

Four-game wonder Blake Taaffe will wear the No 1 for Souths.Credit:Getty Images

His development will be accelerated by working with Mitchell who will remain on the Gold Coast rather than return home to Taree to avoid the scrutiny over his Manu hit.

“Taaffe isn’t the big damaging ball-runner Latrell is, but there are other areas of his game he’s very good,” Reynolds said.

“He suits our style of footy as much as Latrell does. He’s a bit of an unknown, people don’t know much about him but we’ve been fortunate to see what he does at training week in week out.

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“He’s an energiser bunny, he gets all over the park, supports everyone, he’s always on the ball, never lets the ball bounce at the back and always catching it on the full.

“He gets you on the front foot. He backs himself for as young fella. It’s good to see his confidence.

“We’ll expect teams to test him out, but there’s something about the young kids these days, they step straight into first grade and feel comfortable. Look at guys like Reece Walsh and Sam Walker, they’ve come in at 18 and had an immediate impact. I place Taaffe up there with those fellas when it comes to how good he can be.”

Reynolds sent a scare through the camp on Friday night when he slipped and clutched at his right knee. He came from the field but returned midway through the second half when the Roosters got themselves back in the game.

“I just hyper-extended my knee and felt something down the side of it,” Reynolds said.“If it was serious the medical staff wouldn’t have let me go back out. It was a twinge. There’s been no pain. I didn’t even go for scans so there’s been nothing to worry about.”

Benji Marshall is expected to be named at No. 6 for the Dragons clash with Dean Hawkins or Lachlan Ilias, Reynolds’ long-term halfback successor, to wear the No. 7.

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