South Sydney players have anointed Alex Johnston as the man to replace Latrell Mitchell at fullback, with the star No.1 expected to be sidelined for at least a month.
The Rabbitohs look to be without Mitchell until the finals after he hurt his hamstring during Thursday’s dominant win over Parramatta.
Mitchell’s absence is a blow for the Bunnies given his stellar recent form, but his teammates have full faith in Johnston as his replacement.
“AJ has proven time and time again that he is more than capable to do the job back there,” winger Campbell Graham said about Johnston, who is expected to return after sitting out the Parramatta win with concussion.
“He will bring a bit of experience back to the side.
“But he (Latrell) is a big loss for us. His injury looked pretty ugly.
“It is a torn hammy, so depending on the grade and the severity, we can expect to miss him for a couple of weeks.”
Latrell Mitchell is attended to by a trainer after suffering a hamstring injury against Parramatta on Thursday night. Picture: News CorpSource:FOX SPORTS
Rabbitohs lock Cameron Murray believes Johnston is the man to replace Mitchell at fullback given his experience in the position.
Murray also expects him to play with a point to prove as he fights for his future beyond this season.
Johnston still doesn’t have a contract, and it’s unlikely he will remain at the Rabbitohs due to the salary cap.
“Every time we’ve asked Alex to deliver this year, he has been exceptional for us,” Murray said.
“He is a very loved player, and if he is out there at the back, I’ve got every confidence in him to get the job done.
“He is a great leader from the back there, and he is no stranger to the fullback role.
“He has been in great form this year and no doubt he will step up in that role if he is gifted that opportunity.”
Proven try scorer Alex Johnston is the man to replace Latrell Mitchell, teammates say. Picture: AAP Image/Dan HimbrechtsSource:AAP
Souths have rediscovered their finest form in big wins over Manly and Parramatta, but Murray isn’t getting carried away.
The Rabbitohs face Melbourne at ANZ Stadium next Friday night and finish in round 20 with a clash against back-to-back champions the Sydney Roosters.
Murray knows his side must find another gear despite their standout form in the past fortnight.
“It is going to be a big test for us, and you want to test yourself against the benchmark of the competition,” he said.
“There are a few teams there that have been playing really well.
“Melbourne and the Roosters have been the benchmark of the competition for a couple of years now, so it will be a real test of our character.
“We will be able to see how we fare against the top teams.
“We won’t be patting ourselves on the back too much this week, and our focus will turn to putting in a good performance against Melbourne.”
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