South Sydney began their post-Adam Reynolds era with a forgettable performance and deserved defeat. Brisbane began their Adam Reynolds era without Reynolds but were still too good for a Rabbitohs outfit that looked a shadow of the 2021 grand final side.
Payne Haas, Selwyn Cobbo and Pat Carrigan were hugely influential for the Broncos in their 11-4 victory, while new signing Kurt Capewell was the accidental hero when he smashed over a field goal after the set play, aimed at Jamayne Isaako, broke down.
It was a deserved result for the home side, who played with energy, passion and scrambled with defensive vigour all night. Reynolds missed what would have been his Broncos debut with COVID-19 but Albert Kelly was good in his place and looks a strong candidate to play outside the classy playmaker next week.
But the Rabbitohs were a mess for Jason Demetriou’s head coaching debut. They lacked direction around young halfback Lachlan Ilias, who tried all night but was indecisive at times and showed some obvious nerves, and produced an error-ridden and ill-disciplined 80 minutes.
They must find a way to compensate for the lack of Reynolds’ long kicking game and the return of Latrell Mitchell can’t come quickly enough if they are going to be a top-four side again in 2022.
Demetriou was in no mood to discuss the absence of Reynolds after the match, saying he felt Ilias would grow into the jersey and there was zero point wondering what might have been should Reynolds have stayed at Redfern.
“It’s irrelevant. He’s (Reynolds) not there. The decisions have been made. He’ll be wearing a Broncos jersey this year. There’s no point thinking about what might be, the face is he’s not there,” Demetriou said.
“I thought he (Ilias) was pretty good. He’s learning, he’s learning all the time. He defended really well, which is a big part of his game. He can own his kicking a bit more but other than that it wasn’t a bad start.”
None of that should detract from what Brisbane produced minus their star signing and with key middle Thomas Flegler still suspended. Cobbo had a night out and announced himself as a serious NRL player as he finds a home on the Broncos wing.