Rabbitohs get big finals boost after controversial incident

South Sydney five-eighth Cody Walker is free to play in next weekend's NRL preliminary final after avoiding a ban for his slap on Manly's Jack Gosiewski.

The Rabbitoh was sent to the sin-bin in the 29th minute of Friday's semi-final win over the Sea Eagles after striking Gosiewski with an open palm after the back-rower pushed Adam Doueihi's face into the turf.

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Walker has been slapped with a grade one contrary conduct charge which carries a fine but no suspension, meaning he's free to face Canberra in the grand final qualifier.

Walker's fine will be $1150 with an early plea or $1500 if he contests the charge and loses.

Cody Walker's sin-binning was one of the big talking points in the Rabbitohs' win over Manly. Pic: Getty

Teammate Dane Gagai is also facing a grade one contrary conduct charge with the same penalties for the 29th-minute incident with Gosiewski.

Manly's Brad Parker has been charged with a grade one tripping offence for his 54th-minute infringement on Souths' James Roberts.

Parker was also sin-binned over the incident and faces a fine ranging from $1700 to $2250 depending on his plea.

Walker’s availability for the Canberra finals clash will be a he boost for the Rabbitohs if they hope to spring an upset over the red-hot Raiders.

Rabbitohs coach’s hilarious halftime gaffe

Supercoach Wayne Bennett has admitted to giving South Sydney the wrong halftime speech in their wild NRL semi-final triumph over Manly.

Bennett was so filthy with his team's first-half effort on Friday that he left the coach's box and headed to the sheds with 10 minutes to go before the break.

Unaware that Cameron Murray had scored in the final minute to give his team a two-point halftime lead, Bennett tried to rally his troops for a comeback victory.

"I'm talking like we're losing because I think we were four points behind. Honestly that's what I believed," Bennett said post-game.

"And anyway, (assistant coach Jason Demetriou) said a couple of things and he kept talking about the three tries we scored.

"And I'm thinking 'we've only scored two. But just shut your mouth, Wayne. We've scored two, he's miscalculated.'

Wayne Bennett admits he thought Souths were losing to Manly at halftime. Pic: Getty

"So I've given my halftime-we're-behind speech: 'Let's make sure we're in front at the end of the game'."

It's at that point Bennett said captain Sam Burgess pulled his coach aside and informed him that they were in fact in front.

"I said 'piss off Sam, what are you talking about? He said 'coach, we're leading 18-16'. I had no idea we'd scored. I had no idea at all.

"So I changed the speech again very quickly. I started clapping and cheering and said, 'we're in front boys. Let's stay in front'."

But even that rev-up failed to work, with the Rabbitohs twice forced to come from behind in the second half before finally reclaiming the lead in the 71st minute.

Bennett conceded that, at one point, his thoughts turned to the summer.

"With 20 minutes to go, I'm in pre-season next year, what I gotta do with these guys. My season's over," he said.

"I'm feeling like we're not going to be at training on Monday.

"Twenty minutes later, we're sitting here going to Canberra."