Nature

Souths switch spine as Murray returns for Tigers clash




The Souths are set to make two huge spine calls ahead of their critical clash with the Wests Tigers on Saturday with captain Cameron Murray set to return earlier than expected from injury and Blake Taaffe dropped as their full back.

Bunnies coach Jason Demetriou has confirmed Murray will be back after shoulder surgery, a welcome boost for Sydney South and New South Wales.

“We need his experience on the pitch,” Demetriou said. “He does everything right and he’s a model professional.

“He had surgery and went back there the next day and gave himself every chance to play.

“He will have an impact, but we all have to play our own roles and we cannot sit idly by hoping he can solve our problems.

“Indigenous Round is always a special week for our club, and having Cam with the boys is important. Cam brings an aggressive mindset, a hardworking attitude, but also a real threat with the footy.

“I can’t wait to see how he will impact the rest of the team. The conversation we had this week was ‘if you’re not right, you don’t play’. It was that simple only that.

“He did everything as planned and more than that, he did extra training after training with contact work. He is ready to go.

“He had a minor cleaning, the surgeon told us he had a chance to play in two to three weeks, and if he feels well he could play.

“If he comes through on Saturday and feels good, he’ll be picked for Origin. Origin is the pinnacle of the game for these guys, he pays so much when he plays, and I’ll be happy to see him play there as well.

The Suds are about to sound some changes: they welcome back Mark Nicholls, out since Round 4 with an ankle syndesmosis, and cleared Taane Milne and Junior Tatola from concussion protocols.

Perhaps the biggest call of all will be that Blake Taaffe, currently replacing injured Latrell Mitchell at fullback, is set to return to a swap role with Kodi Nikorima expected to move to fullback.

The move mirrors what many saw with Taaffe, who played almost all of his first-year career at fullback but was primarily a junior and reserve half.

(Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

His stats in 2022 reflect his inexperience in the full-back role: his error rate is among the highest in the NRL, akin to the much maligned Matt Dufty and Tyrell Sloan, and his overall counters with ball in hand are also at the bottom. . a league-wide analysis.

Nikorima, who joined the club less than a month ago, has spent most of his career as a bench player but came down to 1 last week when injuries forced Taaffe into the centers .

“Kodi will play fullback tomorrow night,” Demetriou told the Sydney Morning Herald.

“Blake is still learning his craft, it also gives us good utility value on the bench. Kodi gives us some experience and a voice in and around our spine.

“I can’t wait to see what he does and the value he brings to our team.”

The South have been hammered by mistakes this year, with the NRL’s worst completion rate, so making a move that secures that part of the game is a no-brainer, at least until regular full-back Mitchell – who is currently receiving intensive treatment in the United States – is allowed to return.

Taaffe has combined well with halfback Lachlan Ilias at junior and reserve grade, and still ranks well on attacking metrics such as line-breaking assists and try appearances, in particular. compared to the relatively small number of total possessions he has.

If South Sydney can use Nikorima to help them get out of the distance, while extracting the best from Taaffe’s attack, they could find a decent stopgap until Latrell returns.




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