AAP Rugby

Roberts no certainty to return next week

By AAP Newswire

Wayne Bennett won't guarantee James Roberts' return next week against Melbourne as he continues to put his centre's wellbeing first.

Roberts sat out Friday night's loss to the Sydney Roosters, after only returning to training last weekend after checking out of a rehabilitation clinic.

Souths players have noted that the NSW State of Origin star has been all smiles at practice and a welcome returnee at Redfern.

But Bennett will wait and see before deciding if he is right to come back against the Storm at AAMI Park on Friday night.

"I don't know about that," Bennett said.

"I just need to see a bit more of him in training.

"I'm not going to rush him back, I don't want him to come back and fail and not play well.

"That won't do anything for his confidence."

Roberts absence saw Latrell Mitchell spend 80 minutes at fullback on Friday night for the first time this year, with no outside back on the bench.

The former Rooster laid on one try for Cameron Murray against his old club, and pulled off a try-saver in defence on Luke Keary.

But while it was his best showing in the Rabbitohs' No.1 jersey this year, he was still relatively quiet.

While opposite number James Tedesco totally 267 metres, Mitchell ran just 76 and also made a simple error fielding a kick.

Bennett refused to be drawn on his performance and his development as a fullback after the match.

"You guys (the media) will work that out. You all have opinions on him," Bennett said.

"I have a different opinion on him."

Pressed further on his performance, Bennett said: "I had another 16 players out there, do you want to talk about them?

"Latrell is one of 17. You all saw his performance and if you can't write about that, I'm not going to add to it,"