Rabbitohs re-sign young halfback Ilias

·3-min read

South Sydney have solved the first piece of their contract puzzle by securing halfback Lachlan Ilias until the end of 2025 in the days before the finals series.

Ilias and his teammates in the Rabbitohs' spine - Latrell Mitchell, Cody Walker and Damien Cook - had all been set to come off contract at the end of 2023 and able to negotiate with rival clubs from November 1 this year.

Now that Ilias has been re-signed, the club will shift focus to the other three players, who are set to command higher salaries than the young halfback.

A local junior, 22-year-old Ilias has taken the reins from the club's former No.7 Adam Reynolds this season and will line up for the Rabbitohs in Sunday's elimination final against the Sydney Roosters.

"I'm really happy to have my contract sorted out and I'm even happier to know I'll be a long-term player with the Rabbitohs," Ilias said.

Ahead of the finals, Ilias credited his close off-field friendship for the strength of his combination with second-rower Keaon Koloamatangi this season.

While much has been made of the chemistry between Mitchell and Walker, Ilias' combination with Koloamatangi has given the Rabbitohs a consistent threat on a right edge that has been subject to great change throughout the year.

Koloamatangi's seven tries this season make him the club's most prolific forward other than hooker Damien Cook, and in the lead-up to five of those tries, Ilias was the last man to touch the ball.

Ilias' combination with Koloamatangi has been a striking feature of his game and there's been a simple reason for its success.

"We're just good mates off the field," Ilias said.

"Whether it's on the field or in the gym, we're always together.

"We're just having fun and we're enjoying what we're doing. We've been able to score some points from it."

Koloamatangi and his partner welcomed a baby girl late last month but he is still finding time to catch up with his good mate between dad duties and finals preparations.

"Obviously (Koloamatangi) has got his family now so I give him a bit of time there but we still catch up for coffees at training," Ilias said.

Koloamatangi was one of those who rallied around Ilias when he was benched mid-game in the Rabbitohs' round 15 loss to St George Illawarra.

That day, Ilias dropped the ball from the kick-off and was taken from the field just before the half-hour mark as the Rabbitohs slumped to a 32-0 halftime deficit.

But coach Jason Demetriou kept his faith in Ilias, who has well and truly put the tough night at the office behind him.

"Everyone does a good job of flushing things at this club," Ilias said.

"Once it's happened, it's happened and you just move on.

"That's something that I've carried on with me this whole year. I don't worry about external noise and I just listen to the people I have to listen to."