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The Roar



Debate is over: Rabbitohs should regret Reynolds roster clanger as Broncos half gets last laugh with contract extension

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21st February, 2024
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In the two years since South Sydney decided to cast Adam Reynolds adrift there has been plenty of debate about whether it was the right call to move on a fading veteran or whether they should have kept him around.

The debate is over. It can now be seen as one of the biggest roster blunders in recent NRL history. 

Reynolds has not only shown that he can still be an elite halfback but the Rabbitohs have tailed off dramatically since their proud local junior was basically forced out. 

Souths argued that they tried to put a competitive offer in front of Reynolds to extend his tenure into the 2022 season on a one-year deal with the unwritten promise that there would be more salary cap at their disposal the following season to pay him what he was worth. 

Adam Reynolds in the 2021 NRL grand final

(Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

That is not how you treat a club legend who has played 231 matches for your club, scored more points than any other Rabbitoh, was chief playmaker in their breakthrough Grand Final win and quite frankly, was far from over the hill at 31. 

In an age when the best halves play until their mid 30s, the speculation over Reynolds’ supposed injury woes was spurious given that he played 20 or more games in nine of his 11 seasons for the Bunnies and never fewer than 16.

Sounds pretty durable. 


The Bunnies knew they had a good young halfback waiting in the wings in Lachlan Ilias. And that’s what they’ve got – a good young halfback, not an elite veteran who was the most important member of their team, Latrell Mitchell included.

When Mitchell was suspended for his infamous hit on Joey Manu on the eve of the 2021 finals series, Reynolds held the Rabbitohs together as they upset Penrith early in the playoffs and came within a whisker of toppling the Panthers again on Grand Final night. 

It was of course way too late by then to get Reynolds to stay given the club had been slapped in the face a few months earlier at the negotiating table. 

And it wasn’t just that Souths made a modest one-year offer and Brisbane were cashed up, Cronulla also put a substantial long-term deal on the table before Reynolds opted to head north.

Getting away from Sydney and starting a new phase of his career at a rebuilding powerhouse was the better option – if he had switched to the Sharks it would have been tougher to get that team into a GF, which is exactly what he did in his second year with the Broncos. 

Again, just a couple of points from Penrith denied Reynolds a second premiership ring last year on Grand Final night. 


Fox League commentator Greg Alexander said during Brisbane’s trial win over the Cowboys last weekend that he thought Reynolds’ 2023 campaign was the finest of his career.

But that’s not where the disaster ends for Souths. The 33-year-old is not only ready to deliver again for the Broncos this year but the club is set to announce a contract extension for 2025 too. 

If he maintains anything close to his current output they should keep him around for another year after that as well.

The NRL is yet to have a Tom Brady who plays into his 40s – Cameron Smith at 38 was the closest in that regard. And it’s probably far fetched to think Reynolds will last more than two or three more years but he is the kind of player whose game style is unlikely to drop off. 

He’s never had much pace so there’s no concern there if he slows down. As long as he retains his speed between the ears, up there with Nathan Cleary and Daly Cherry-Evans as the quickest in the NRL, he will be a valuable commodity for the Broncos. 

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - OCTOBER 01: Adam Reynolds of the Broncos reacts after a Panthers try during the 2023 NRL Grand Final match between Penrith Panthers and Brisbane Broncos at Accor Stadium on October 01, 2023 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

(Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

They need to appoint an on-field bodyguard for him like they did more than a decade ago when hulking lock Tonie Carroll would shadow Darren Lockyer in the defensive line to cop the brunt of opposing forwards trying to launch a spot run at the star playmaker.


And funnily enough, the person who would be the modern-day equivalent of Carroll’s protection service would be none other than Patrick Carrigan. 

Reynolds has already shown he can hold his own against Carrigan in impromptu late-night wrestling sessions so perhaps the Broncos’ captain in waiting can put what he learned at Fortitude Valley to good use by grappling with opposition players who run at his halfback.

As for the Bunnies, they came up short in the finals in their first year without Reynolds and didn’t even qualify last season. 

Heading into their 2024 campaign they are again unsettled with pressure on Jason Demetriou after surviving an assistant coach mutiny late last season. 

They have added former Raiders star Jack Wighton, a classy five-eighth who will play centre, as they again rely on Ilias and Cody Walker to liaise with Damien Cook and Mitchell to provide the backbone of a premiership-winning side. 

Lachlan Ilias. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

Mitchell, Wighton and Walker are very similar players who possess game-breaking ability but it is Ilias who holds the key to their fortunes. 


Fifty-one games into his NRL career Ilias has proven he is no slouch, but he is no Reynolds either. 

Mulligans are only allowed in golf, sometimes, and they are definitely not on offer for club officials when it comes to contract negotiations. 

NRL clubs often err on the side of caution and keep under-performing veteran stars around a season or two too many. It was bold to invest in Ilias instead of Reynolds. But also the wrong move.

Whether they needed to offload another player or two, or three, to keep Reynolds at the club, the Bunnies should never have put him in a position where his only option was to leave the only team he ever wanted to represent.