South Sydney centre James Roberts’ NRL return has stalled after being ruled out of Saturday’s clash with Gold Coast Titans.
Rabbitohs coach Wayne Bennett said he would give Roberts another week to regain full fitness after the flyer missed the past two matches following a stint in rehabilitation.
Braidon Burns now slots into a South Sydney backline that will welcome back playmaker Cody Walker after completing a two-game NRL ban for his street fight last December.
Bennett said Roberts was in a “good place” mentally and understood the decision to sideline him for another game.
“I think he realised he is not where he should be. He’s not quite there yet so we thought we would be better waiting another week,” he said.
“He should be right for next week, we will wait and see.
“(But) I think he is pretty happy, in a pretty good place.”
Bennett was excited by the prospect of star five-eighth Walker’s return as South Sydney looked to end a three-game losing streak.
While happy with their effort since the NRL resumed, Bennett said execution had been a problem – a problem he believed Walker would help rectify against a revitalised Titans.
“He will make a difference there is no doubt about that,” he said.
“Cody means a lot to everybody because of his energy, his great skill level and ability to play what is in front of him.”
Bennett also issued a sobering warning to Gold Coast – fullback Latrell Mitchell was only going to get better.
Mitchell played his best game yet in the No.1 jersey since his much debated switch from centre this year in last round’s tough 22-8 loss to Melbourne.
Bennett said it was just the tip of the iceberg.
“He is in a great place right now,” he said.
“He was sensational at training this morning, very happy, upbeat, lots of energy.
“I like what he brought last week and there is no reason why he won’t get better – he will get better.
“He is certainly doing everything right at the moment, playing well and training great.”
Bennett was wary of a Titans outfit that ended a 364 day wait for a win with their last round upset over Wests Tigers.
“I thought they played with a lot of energy last week. They executed (well) and got themselves a win – that’s encouraging for a coach when they are putting the effort in,” he said.