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Jasper Bruce

Taaffe set for more NRL chances in 2023

Utility back Blake Taaffe will enjoy more match minutes during the 2023 NRL season at South Sydney. (Dan Himbrechts/AAP PHOTOS) (AAP)

Blake Taaffe can expect to play NRL week in, week out next year after impressing South Sydney coach Jason Demetriou more than any other player so far this pre-season.

Latrell Mitchell's understudy, Taaffe has managed 18 NRL appearances in two year, most notably filling in at fullback when Mitchell was suspended on the run to the 2021 grand final.

The 23-year-old spent some more time in first grade this year as Mitchell recovered from his hamstring injury but played only one game after the Rabbitohs' marquee man returned.

Taaffe's days of missing out appear over, though, with Demetriou declaring him ready to slot into the bench utility role previously filled by Benji Marshall and Kodi Nikorima.

"He's probably been our best in the pre-season," Demetriou told AAP.

"He learned some good lessons last year and that's put him in good stead for this year.

"He's got some good versatility, Blake.

"He's definitely shown that he needs to be in the NRL side every week."

Mitchell opted to sit the State of Origin period out this season to focus on club duties but is likely to play for NSW in 2023 if fit, opening the door for Taaffe to start at fullback for Souths.

"That makes him even more important for us," Demetriou said.

"I'm excited for where he goes."

The Rabbitohs have recruited no new players for 2023, such is Demetriou's confidence in the players on the fringes of their first-grade side.

"I don't think I've ever been in an NRL side where we haven't had a single new player in," he said.

"That stability and that excitement, you can feel that in the pre-season from the playing group."

Demetriou has tipped it will not just be Taaffe who enjoys more time in the big leagues than ever before.

"There are some players who had a crack last year who I think will step up again," he said.

"Isaiah Tass will be one of those, Shaq Mitchell as well did some really good things last year. I'm really looking forward to seeing how Isaiah Tass develops as well."

Former NZ Schoolboy representative Josiah Karapani headlines a list of potential debutants, having appeared for the Rabbitohs in the 2022 pre-season.

"Josiah Karapani's probably one of them who was knocking on the door but had some illness and injury that stopped him from getting an opportunity last year," Demetriou said.

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