South Sydney coach Wayne Bennett says he's undeterred as his injury hit-side attempt to get their NRL season back on track against the Wests Tigers on Thursday night.
The Rabbitohs were given a boost this week with halfback Adam Reynolds (back fracture) and centre Braidon Burns (hamstring) both cleared to return to the pitch.
But that positive was offset by the loss of fullback Alex Johnston to bone bruising in his leg, leaving Corey Allan to don the No.1 jersey at Bankwest Stadium.
Bennett said the injury wasn't serious and hoped to have Johnston back against Manly in a fortnight, after their round 16 bye.
Johnson's absence represents yet another case of one step forward, one step back for the Rabbitohs who have spluttered through the representative period, with their last victory coming against the Tigers in round 11.
Despite their mid-season downturn, they remain ensconced in the top four - in second spot and four competition points behind Melbourne.
Having added former Brisbane flyer James Roberts to their squad and on the verge of luring want-away back-rower Jaydn Su'A from the Broncos before the June 30 transfer deadline, the Rabbitohs' premiership window is wide open.
"We're pretty good mentally," Bennett said.
"We haven't had any crisis meeting so it's been good.
"We've just got to execute a little bit better. Effort was there, energy was there, all the things that you require (against Penrith two weeks ago)
"We had the game won at 18-14 and we kind of gave it up but we're in a good place."
However, Souths skipper Sam Burgess has failed in his attempt to prove himself fit just three weeks after undergoing shoulder surgery.
He was named in an extended squad but is now hopeful of being back to face the Sea Eagles at ANZ Stadium on July 13.
Tigers coach Michael Maguire confirmed captain Moses Mbye would take the field despite suffering anaphylactic shock while in Queensland camp last week, a setback that did not prevent him playing in Origin II.
"Yeah no worries at all," Maguire said.
"I wasn't scared, he just rang me. He was actually laughing about it, he couldn't believe it actually happened.
" He's fine and they wouldn't have let him play the other night if he wasn't. He's ready to go."
STATS THAT MATTER
* After losing four straight against the Wests Tigers from 2015-17, the Rabbitohs have won three of the past four.
* The Wests Tigers have played two games at Bankwest Stadium losing by a combined score of 79-6.
* After winning 10 of their opening 11 games of the season, Souths have lost three straight and will aim to avoid losing four consecutive games in a season for the first time since rounds 18-21, 2017.
Australian Associated Press