South Sydney Rabbitohs, Penrith Panthers final big rematch, Adan Reynolds leaves Souths, Brisbane Broncos, Lachlan Ilias decision, news

The Rabbitohs allowing veteran half-back Adam Reynolds to leave Redfern have been called ‘the worst decision in their club’s history’ – but now Souths have been vindicated.

Reynolds was seeking a multi-year deal to stay with the Rabbitohs, but instead filed a one-year extension which prompted a move to the Broncos.

Ilias, 22, was tasked with filling Reynolds’ big shoes and struggled to find form at the start of the 2022 campaign.

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Rabbitohs coach Jason Demetriou went so far as to remove the halfback from the field after just 29 minutes against the Dragons in Round 15.

However, to end the season the young playmaker was one of Souths best performers and after a stellar performance in a sudden-death final against Sharks, Fox League’s Braith Anasta believes the club have “proved everyone wrong”.

“Many said that after eight weeks when Reynolds was flying to Brisbane, many said it was the worst decision the Souths had made in their club’s history when Reynolds left,” Anasta said.

“Many said the Souths were going to fall, that they weren’t going to make the final and if they did they would be useless.

“It was the criticism, they called the heads of Souths officials, Jason Demetriou was under pressure, they had that Dragons game where he knocked out Lachlan Ilias.

“He was criticized for that, now they’ve proven everyone wrong.”

Ilias finished with a try, an assist, a line break, a line break assist and six tackle jumps in his side’s big 38-12 victory to book a big final revenge against the Panthers.

His performance caught the eye of rugby league legend Andrew Johns who praised power brokers Rabbitohs for making the difficult decision to look ahead.

The eighth Immortal even went so far as to call Ilias the ‘best defensive half-back’ in the NRL.

“Whoever made this decision should be applauded,” Johns said on Nine’s Sunday Football Show.

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“It was a tough decision to let Reynolds go. It’s a win-win for both sides, Brisbane won but also the Souths won.

“Every time I see him (Ilias) he builds his game. Defensively, I think he is by far the best defensive back in the competition.

NRL legend Billy Slater echoed Johns’ view, explaining it was the right decision to trust an inexperienced playmaker.

“They didn’t just win this year, they won for the next ten, 15 years,” Slated said.

“He’s a career player, and if he stays in South Sydney they’re going to reap the benefits for a long time.”

Anasta, who is Ilias’ playing agent, revealed the young gun knew the pressure was on him to deliver after the Rabbitohs made the big call.

But, after absorbing the criticism and having to return to the role of halfback among the “seven best to play for the club”, Anasta was impressed with his performances.

“I’ve been proud of him, he’s just the kind of person he is, he’s really a low key (person) and he’s done a solid job this year, he’s had a lot of pressure on him with the Reynolds stuff,” Anasta said. on SEN 1170.

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“Souths was heavily criticized for this (letting Reynolds go), not to say it was the worst decision they’ve ever made and Reynolds had a great year at Brissy (Brisbane), if he was in the team that knows because he is a great player.”

“But Souths had to make a call there, he wanted 800 (a thousand) over three years and he’s missed four or five games this year through injury.

“It’s all put a lot of pressure on Lachie but he’s quite a humble kid who works hard and the players love him, it was his first year of seven at a prestigious club who just lost someone I think is the best seven to play for the club.