In the aftermath of the devastating long-term injury to Greg Inglis, a number of names have been thrown into the ring to fill the shoes of the South Sydney superstar. While the Rabbitohs have several high-quality candidates pushing their case from feeder club the Bears, one player was a standout for the side in their first hit-out: co-captain Eli Levido.
Levido was in control in North Sydney’s Round 1 clash with Wentworthville on Saturday, directly setting up two tries and having a hand in most others as the visitors won 32-24. The 21-year-old has picked up where he left off in 2016, continuing his path towards an eventual NRL debut.
The Rabbitohs’ 21-man squad for their Round 2 game against the Sea Eagles is due to be released at 4pm today, with several questions about who will be Inglis’s replacement. One potential solution is to shift exciting half and fullback Cody Walker to the custodian role this week, with Levido and John Sutton the front-runners to relocate to the halves. On that situation arising, Levido was unsure.
“It obviously would be nice,” Levido tells NSWRL.com.au. “I’m just looking to play some good footy at Norths and if anything happens off the back of that I’d be thrilled to have an opportunity.
“It’s very unfortunate what happened to Greg, he’s one of the best players in the game,” Levido adds. “It’s always unfortunate to see anyone get injured but the captain of the club… it’s very unfortunate.”
The former Wests Tigers Holden Cup player was a highlight for the Bears in season 2016 and remains a distinct possibility for his NRL debut, at least in the month or more before halfback Adam Reynolds returns. If Walker is to remain in the halves, however, either bench hooker Damien Cook or winger Alex Johnston could relocate to the back; if it’s the latter, rookie recruits Robert Jennings and Braidon Burns would be chances of lining up for the Rabbitohs in the back line. After both players bagged doubles and made the Round 1 Team of the Week, Levido lauded the efforts of the pair.
“They were very easy to get along with and they took everything on board with the game plan,” Levido says. “They’re young fellas so they brought a lot of energy and helped up the line-speed and had some strong carries as well out of their own end.
“I’ve got the utmost respect for them. The tries come off the back of the plays that we’ve put on and they were very, very good.”
It shapes as a selection headache for head coach Michael Maguire, but at the lower level coach Ben Gardiner will be pleased with his side’s first-up effort at Ringrose Park. Levido was impressed, in particular, with the Bears’ efforts without the football.
“There was a stage in the game where we defended six sets on our line,” Levido explains. “Unfortunately Cameron King, the hooker went from dummy-half and scored on that sixth set, but there was a lot of positives to take out of our defensive effort.
“It’s also pleasing to know that we can defend a few sets back-to-back if need be.”
The Bears were boosted by the inclusion of English international George Burgess on the weekend and it remains to be seen which jersey he will wear in Round 2 – while extended NRL squads will be named at 4pm today, Intrust Super Premiership NSW teams can be found from 5pm at NSWRL.com.au.