‘You don’t want a Souths product to leave’

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Cameron McInnes during St George Dragons rugby league training at WIN Stadium, Wollongong. Picture: Brett Costello

SOUTH Sydney players have revealed the emotional pain they felt parting ways with local junior Cameron McInnes after he decided to leave for archrivals St George Illawarra due to Robbie Farah’s arrival at Redfern.

On the eve of their first match against McInnes in Sunday’s traditional Charity Shield, Rabbitohs players expressed their disappointment over the hooker’s departure, with veteran forward John Sutton saying, “You don’t want a Souths product to leave”.

Former captain Sutton praised the Botany Rams junior for handling himself with class despite moving on to make way for Farah.

“Cam was a true professional,” Sutton told The Sunday Telegraph.

“It’s sad to see young players from the area go, because they are Souths juniors who come up through the ranks. To see them go it’s disappointing, because at this club we always want to try and keep our juniors.

McInnes played 39 matches for Souths from 2014-16.

McInnes played 39 matches for Souths from 2014-16.Source:News Corp Australia

“Different things happen, but the way he handled himself was a true professional.

“I’m sure Cam has been training the house down and he wants to play some really good football.”

Halfback Adam Reynolds says it will be “weird” to see McInnes in the Red V, but insists the hooker will always hold a special place in his heart.

“Cam is a local boy, so there is a soft spot there for him,” Reynolds said. “I’ve got a lot of respect for him. He was good here at Souths and it was sad to see him leave.

“I’ve always seen him as Souths boy and as footy goes you tend to move on in your career and there is a lot of chop and change.

“But for him it’s another opportunity get his foot in the door and further his career.

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“But he handled it second to none and it just shows what a person he is away from football.

“He was straight up and down about it and there was no beating around the bush from Cam.

“I think he will go well at the Dragons, because he is a tough little bugger who works really hard on his game.”

McInnes may be settled at St George Illawarra, but he could have stayed at Souths if his replacement Farah decided to link with the Dragons.

In fact if it wasn’t for loyalty and location, Farah would be donning the famous Red V this season.

The NSW Origin hooker seriously contemplated joining the Dragons before opting to link with the Rabbitohs.

Farah’s manager Sam Ayoub confirmed the hooker received an offer from Souths midway through 2015 when he started to fallout with Tigers coach Jason Taylor.

Reynolds wants to use the trial as a springboard for Round 1.

Reynolds wants to use the trial as a springboard for Round 1.Source:News Corp Australia

In the end, this approach went a long way to eventually sealing Farah’s signature at Redfern.

“Souths approached Robbie midway through the 2015 season when he’d just broken his hand prior to the final Origin,” Ayoub said.

“But Robbie didn’t want to go, he was happy to dig in at the Tigers.

“He certainly appreciated the offer from the Dragons, but Souths suited where he wanted to live and a few other factors.”

Meanwhile, Reynolds says he is determined to use the trial against St George Illawarra to perfect his game heading into the season proper.

As a Souths junior, the halfback has always looked forward to the annual Charity Shield versus the Dragons.

“It’s a game that I’ve always taken interest in as a kid and always wanted to be a part of,” he said.

“I remember when Souths got kicked out and the Charity Shield was their first game back.

“That gave me the bug to want to get in there and I’ve been fortunate to play a few Charity Shields now.

“It’s always a game I love.”