South Sydney captain John Sutton will revert to five-eighth in his record-breaking 212th match for the foundation club but Rabbitohs coach Michael Maguire remains confident the decision to move him to the forwards will eventually prove to be the right one.
Sutton will pass Bob McCarthy as the most capped Souths player when he leads a revamped line-up onto the SCG in Saturday night's match against St George Illawarra but, after three consecutive losses, the focus within the Rabbitohs camp is on results rather than creating history.
"It is a big thrill and it is great going past Bob," said Sutton at a media day to promote the first NRL match at the recently renovated SCG. "He is a legend of the game, so to do it out here on the weekend is going to be a big honour for myself but, in saying that, I just want to get the win for the team."
Setting the pace: John Sutton with club legend Ron Coote and coach Michael Maguire. Photo: Anthony Johnson
As a result of the losses to Manly, Wests Tigers and Canberra, Maguire has shifted Sutton to five-eighth, with Dylan Walker shuffling out to the centres and Bryson Goodwin to the wing in place of Lote Tuqiri, who has paid the price for a below-par performance against the Raiders on Sunday.
Sam Burgess has moved from prop to lock, with Dave Tyrrell taking his place up front and Ben Te'o regaining his starting second-row berth but, regardless of how the team performs, Maguire has faith in the changes he prepared the team for during the pre-season.
"I do," he said. "If you look at round one, that is how we went into that first game, so hanging on to the ball is a good start. If we do that a bit more and give ourselves an opportunity, we can explore those changes we made.
"In saying that, we have the ability to go back to John in the halves so we are exploring everything. We are an improving team, as much as it is probably not showing on the field as yet in the way we are performing."
Sutton's return to five-eighth will relieve pressure on halfback Adam Reynolds, whose kicking game against the Raiders appeared indecisive at times, and Walker will benefit from more room out wide.
With star hooker Issac Luke last week undergoing shoulder surgery, the Rabbitohs did not have the space that he usually creates from dummy half and have named under 20s rake Cameron McInnes on a six-man bench as well as last week's debutant Apisai Koroisau.
"I will play wherever Madge wants to play me," Sutton said. "Everyone knows our structures so we just have to get back to doing that."
Under contract to the Rabbitohs until the end of the 2017 season, Sutton said he would reflect more on his milestone when he retires. He said the achievement was something he and his family were proud of.
"With the way we have been going, I haven't really thought about it but it is going to be a great honour for myself to lead the boys out and to become the most capped player," Sutton said.
"Growing up in the area, I supported Souths and my family supported Souths so it is going to be a great achievement for myself."
Maguire said it was a record that Sutton would hold for a long time.
"It is amazing that, in all these years, they haven't had a 300-game player but that is just the way the club has been and it is going to be a tough mark for anyone to beat," he said.
"John is very humble and he just wants to make sure the team is doing well. I am sure in years to come he will look back and realise what he has actually achieved.
"I am proud to have an opportunity to be a part of this, particularly playing here at the SCG and with John breaking records. They are memories you can't buy – as a coach or as a player."
* Dragons coach Steve Price has welcomed back NSW Origin fullback Josh Dugan (knee), prop Dan Hunt (knee) and halfback Michael Witt (shoulder) from injury for the match.