Adam Reynolds will lean on the experience of Sam Burgess, Greg Inglis and John Sutton as he attempts to lead South Sydney into the next generation.
Reynolds fulfilled a boyhood dream on Tuesday, named as the new captain of the club he supported as a child and his family marched for to have reinstated into the NRL in 2000.
A leader by nature at halfback, Reynolds will have hooker Damien Cook and halves partner Cody Walker as his deputies in 2020.
But the trio have a tough task ahead of them, to fill what coach Wayne Bennett has labelled as “a huge void” in leadership.
Burgess, Inglis and Sutton are the only players to captain the club in the past six years, and all led the team out at times in 2019.
All have since too retired, taking 781 NRL games out the window with them.
But with the trio all remaining as part of the Rabbitohs’ coaching staff, Reynolds will be able to take a leaf out of their books in 2020.
“They tend to give us advice, pretty often they are out on the training paddock with us,” Reynolds said.
“They tip us when they need to here and then. It’s great to have them still involved in the club.
“We’re continually challenging each other at training and growing as a (new) leadership group.
“We’re getting better every week and that’s only going to improve.”
Bennett had wrestled with the decision over the off-season, before leaning towards Reynolds over Cook and Walker given his history with the club.
“What swung me in the end is he was born here and played his whole career here. It means so much to him personally,” Bennett said.
“He has had a lot of good leaders around him, and he has learned from that.
“There is a huge void with Sam going, and Greg and John all in the one year. But I’m confident these guys will pick the slack up.
“I know Sam and John and Greg are still here – because they care about the club and love it – and they aren’t going to let it slide by poor leadership.”
Reynolds grew up in Redfern and debuted for Souths in 2012 and has played 183 games for the club.
He put the honour on the same level as playing State of Origin for NSW.
“I grew up across the road from Redfern Oval in apartments on Elizabeth Street and always wanted to play for Souths,” Reynolds said.
“So to have the chance to captain the team is amazing.
“As a kid you always dream of it, whether or not I believed it would happen was a different story.”