Touch of Tass restoring Rabbitohs' bite

·3-min read

South Sydney have credited rookie Isaiah Tass with providing the missing link in their lethal left edge attack.

Brilliant down the left during their run to last year's grand final, the Rabbitohs have rediscovered their bite there to set up a crucial battle in Saturday night's NRL semi-final against Cronulla.

Since Latrell Mitchell's return in round 16, they have laid on 28 tries down their left edge in 11 matches, at an average of 2.54 per game.

Cody Walker in particular has found form with Mitchell posing an extra threat in attack.

But easily overlooked is the stability newcomer Tass has provided, after the Rabbitohs spent months searching for the best way to replace departed Dane Gagai.

Tass moved to South Sydney when he finished school in Queensland but was not offered a deal beyond his time in under-18s.

He then played in the third-tier Ron Massey Cup with Cabramatta, before getting a chance in under-20s at Canterbury until the COVID-19 closure ruined his shot at NSW Cup.

The 23-year-old then returned to Brisbane, but fell out of their top 30 after last year and was resigned to another season in Queensland Cup this year.

"Then Souths came out of nowhere and offered me a lifeline and I decided there was no turning back now," Tass told AAP.

"When that spot on the left came around I took it with both hands ... It's the attacking edge here.

"I am still learning my game, working on my passing game so I can put AJ (winger Alex Johnston) over for a few more tries."

With Tass at left centre and Mitchell and Walker firing, Johnston has scored 16 tries in his last 10 games.

"I knew we weren't firing (early in the year)," Johnston said.

"But obviously second half of the year and lately we've been on song.

"Isaiah Tass has grown into the role. Cody's at his best, he played really well and his passing game on the weekend was freakish."

Asked whether this year's left edge was now as dangerous as it was last year, Walker said it was beginning to return to its old ways.

"Yeah, it's a little bit like that," Walker said.

"I think Isaiah Tass has done a wonderful job coming back.

"He got the train-and-trial chance and he's done a wonderful job.

"It's been awesome to see his development over the year and he's been great for us."

Cronulla though could offer the firmest resistance to Souths this weekend.

Their right-edge defence is the third best in the competition behind only Penrith and North Queensland, while the likes of Siosifa Talakai and Ronaldo Multialo give them their own attacking strike on the left.

TRIES SCORED DOWN LEFT EDGE IN 2022:

South Sydney: 54 (3rd)

Cronulla: 43 (7th)

TRIES CONCEDED DOWN RIGHT EDGE IN 2022:

South Sydney: 41 (7th)

Cronulla: 30 (3rd)