Rabbitohs forward Jai Arrow made a successful return from a hamstring injury against the Dolphins, earning praise from his coach and captain for his contribution in the middle as the side secured a 36-14 win with a dominant second-half fightback.
However, despite talk that he would now be in line to reclaim his Queensland Maroons State of Origin jersey with a team announcement for Game I just over a month away, Arrow didn’t want to look too far ahead to any potential representative honours.
“I obviously love playing for my state. It's one of the most surreal feelings and anytime we get to put on that Queensland jersey, it's pretty special,” Arrow said.
“I'm only one game back into a hamstring injury, so now, my focus here is to play good footy and those rewards will come off the back of it … but for now, it's about getting some miles in the legs and getting some minutes into the lungs and playing good footy here.
“I sat out there for an extended period of time, but I was just happy to get out there and finish a game and knock out 60-plus minutes, so that's nice and exciting for me that my hammy pulled up alright.”
Coach Jason Demetriou said “it really helped having Jai back” while skipper Cameron Murray praised Arrow’s efforts, which included 181 run metres, six tackle breaks and 34 tackles.
“I love playing with him, his effort areas are so good and he works so hard for his teammates, he puts his body on the line for his teammates, he’s just one of those players you want to run out with,” Murray said.
“I think efforts like his and Davvy Moale, who was really good through the middle … I think efforts off the back of players like them give us field position and give us opportunities for Cody [Walker] and Latrell [Mitchell] to ice on the back of shape.
“It was a really good performance from those two in particular.”
With the Rabbitohs stringing together back-to-back wins and showing the kind of form many expected to see earlier in the season, their next challenge is to overcome the Panthers next week, a sort of game they will need to win if they are to finish in the top four this year.
“Obviously helps when you finish in that top four, so that's definitely a goal and we've strung back-to-back wins together,” Arrow said.
“(Tonight) I think it was a good defensive win. Obviously, we didn't let them in the second half, that's a main focus for us, not letting teams score lots of points and we want to be a top three focused defensive side and at the moment we're doing it.
“We've got a tough three weeks coming up with Penrith, Broncos into Storm, so we'll see where we're at over the next three weeks and I'm excited for that.”
Match: Rabbitohs v Panthers
Round 8 -
Venue: Accor Stadium, Sydney