Latrell Mitchell returned to South Sydney training on Thursday as head coach Jason Demetriou faced up to the prospect of watching Friday's derby with the Sydney Roosters from the couch.
Demetriou contracted COVID-19 on Tuesday, with assistant Ben Hornby set to take the reins for Friday's clash at the new Allianz Stadium with the Rabbitohs' fiercest rivals.
Hornby said he was excited by the prospect of taking charge of Souths, although he will be without star hooker Damien Cook (COVID-19).
Souths are aiming to win five straight matches against the Roosters for the first time since 1986.
The good news for the Rabbitohs is that there are no doubts over Mitchell, who spent the early part of the week at his farm in Taree on the NSW Mid North Coast.
After a mid-season trip to the US led to a blistering run of form, Hornby said a freshen-up back home could bring the best out of their prized fullback against his former club.
"Keeping him smiling is great for our team, he's keen and raring to go," Hornby said. "A couple of days in Taree always do that for him.
"He's in the best shape of his life and the best headspace. He's looking forward to the end of the year.
"Obviously, the last couple years he hasn't played in the finals so this is exciting for him."
Injury and then a suspension for a hit on Roosters centre and former housemate Joey Manu meant Mitchell had to miss finals during his time with the Rabbitohs, and Hornby predicted the pair would clash once more.
"The way Latrell plays, he loves confrontation," he said. "It's a physical game, and he'll be playing it that way.
"I'm sure he's looking forward to that as much as Joey is."
Both sides are guaranteed an elimination final and are a strong chance to meet each other in the first week of the finals.
Despite that, Hornby said his side would be 1 to 17 and said it made little difference to Souths whether their sudden-death final was at home or away.
"It doesn't really matter where we play," he said. "It's just about getting out there and imposing our game on the opposition."
Meanwhile, Souths on Friday announced two-year contract extensions for Taane Milne, Isaiah Tass, Izaac Thompson and Ben Lovett.