South Sydney veteran Roy Asotasi claims the Rabbitohs learned the hard way about the pitfalls of relying too heavily on one player - and is why the NRL ladder leaders will cope with the loss of Greg Inglis.
Inglis was ruled out for up to eight weeks yesterday with a knee injury suffered in Queensland's Origin-deciding win over NSW - leaving his availability for the remainder of the regular season in doubt.
While Inglis was bullish in his belief he might miss only two to three games, his Rabbitohs teammates are bracing for the likelihood he will not return until just before the finals.
The timing of the injury and four-point cushion on top of the NRL ladder allow the Rabbitohs a period of adjustment, but Asotasi believes the side has already proved its ability to play without the star fullback.
While Inglis' impact on Souths' stellar campaign cannot be questioned, Asotasi said the way the Bunnies' 2012 finals campaign petered out when they lost Adam Reynolds to injury had proved a valuable lesson.
This year, Rabbitohs coach Michael Maguire has found game time for back-up half Luke Keary to ensure he had a plan B if Reynolds went down, while both Nathan Merritt and Justin Hunt have spent time at fullback.
Merritt and Hunt each played 80 minutes at No 1 in the two games Inglis missed due to Origin commitments - with Souths winning both games.
''That gives the team a lot of confidence knowing that we can play without our rep players,'' Asotasi said.
''We learnt a lot from that game last year against Canterbury where we lost Adam Reynolds.
''I feel like we're a better squad this year.''
But Asotasi knows all eyes will be on the Bunnies when they take on St George Illawarra on Monday night to see if there are any mistakes with their main man laid up.
''He's a big loss but, at the same time - we've got to make sure that we move on and not dwell and live in the past,'' Asotasi said.
''We'll probably need to work a lot harder as a team in regards to how we can find ways to substitute for what GI does.
''I know GI will be disappointed, but the worst thing could have been that he was ruled out for the rest of the year.''
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