South Sydney star Blake Taaffe says he has more experience and is in a better position to fill in for Latrell Mitchell than he was last season.
Souths are priced at 13/5 to make the top four of the NRL in the 2022 campaign but will be missing star fullback Mitchell for the next eight weeks after he picked up a hamstring injury.
Mitchell also missed the start of the season through suspension but Taaffe was unable to deputise as he was dealing with an ankle issue of his own.
However the 22-year-old is now back to fitness and his return could not be better timed. Taaffe will now be handed the chance to make the No.1 jersey his own over the next couple of months. And he is determined to grab it.
Taaffe filled in at the end of last season when Mitchell missed finals. He did a solid job as they made it to the grand final but believes he will be in better shape this time.
"Last year caught me off guard a bit," Taaffe said. "I think knowing the standard I have to play week in week out (will help a lot). Just my effort areas around the ball.
"If that's my job for the next four weeks I am going to knuckle down and do the best I can."
Taaffe was speaking before the extent of the damage was revealed and he will need to provide cover for eight weeks not four.
Souths have games against Canterbury, Wests Tigers, Manly and Brisbane in the next month so it is not too much of a baptism of fire.