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'He's capable': Hawkins gets first crack at Reynolds' vacant jersey

South Sydney will get a first-up glance of their possible life without Adam Reynolds next season with Dean Hawkins set to replace the No.7 for their clash against premiers Melbourne.

With Reynolds sidelined for at least a fortnight, coach Wayne Bennett confirmed Hawkins has been elevated to the halves alongside Benji Marshall for Thursday night's rematch after initially being named on the bench.

Hawkins played just 14 minutes in his NRL debut against the Broncos in round five but is set for longer minutes this time around due the Rabbitohs' latest injury woes.

The 22-year-old returned from a three-week layoff last week after a freak accident meant he needed 15 stitches to his leg after he tried to climb over a fence to celebrate his debut with friends and family.  

"He's a good young guy on the way up," Bennett said on Wednesday.

Dean Hawkins is swamped by his mates after his NRL debut.
Dean Hawkins is swamped by his mates after his NRL debut. ©Grant Trouville/NRL Photos

"He had a year off last year to build his body up a lot. It's helped him a lot this year, he's not a big guy so it's helped him a lot.

"He's been good in the lower grades. He played last week and has got full mobility back which is good. He's capable and we'll see how he plays tomorrow night."

His call-up will send Cody Walker back to fullback and Alex Johnston onto the wing.

Rabbitohs centre Braidon Burns has been named in the backline but Bennett conceded his return to first grade was earlier than expected.

Quadruple injury blow hits Rabbitohs

Burns made his return from a dislocated kneecap in reserve grade last week after almost 12 months of intense rehabilitation.

"It's just trying to get the balance right with a number of players missing," Bennett said.

"When Latrell comes back that will put him back to fullback and then we can move Cody back to his normal position … just trying to make the best of what we got.

"It's a challenge for all of us, a lot of clubs are in the same boat. We thought we had a pretty good squad before we started the season and still think we've got the same squad.

"At the moment they're doing the job for us. They have to, you have to rely on your whole squad and not just your top 17 every week."

The Rabbitohs will go into the clash as outsiders given their heavy injury toll and after the Storm beat the side 26-18 in round one at AAMI Park.

"The thing we take away is we don't want to start the way we did down there, we don't want to start 22-0," Bennett said.

"They're always quality and have been for over two decades. They're no different this year.

"We have a challenge in front of us and hopefully we're up for it."

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