South Sydney coach Michael Maguire says winger Nathan Merritt can still force his way into his side for Round 1 despite being dropped from Friday's 28-10 Charity Shield win over the Dragons.
The try-scoring machine was axed from the annual clash against the Dragons after he slept in and missed training earlier in the week.
He will instead turn out for North Sydney in Saturday's NSW Cup trial against the Illawarra Cutters in his final chance to earn a spot in the season-opening blockbuster against the Sydney Roosters on Thursday week.
His replacement on Friday night, former Bulldog Bryson Goodwin, staked his claim for the left-wing position with a try and two goals in his Rabbitohs debut.
"If Nathan goes and performs and performs the way he's capable of well there's no reason why I won't be looking at his game – I'll be there watching," Maguire said.
"I think right across the whole team I've got some big decisions to be making over the next two weeks.
"It's just a really competitive bunch at the moment so I've got some big decisions I need to make."
One player guaranteed a starting spot is Greg Inglis.
The superstar full-back had a hand in three of the Bunnies' five tries and put his bulked-up frame to good use with several powerhouse runs.
"He's great," Maguire said of Inglis.
"The way he brings the ball back ... he's always crediting the boys that are in front of him that allow him to get the ball on the full and bring the ball back the way he does but he's a handy man to have at the back.
"He came back last year probably later than usual but he worked really hard and he did that again this off-season but he probably had a little longer this one so it's allowed him to get his body right.
"He's feeling good about his footy and he's enjoying his training so while he's doing that he's doing well for us."
Meanwhile, Maguire praised his side's first-half performance but will scour the footage to pinpoint what went wrong midway through the second half as the Dragons closed to within a converted try.
Saints coach Steve Price praised his players' character after clawing their way back into the contest before the Bunnies buried them with two late tries.
"I was very pleased with how the guys fought back from 16-0 to get back to 16-10 and we had opportunities to get back to 16-all with those attacking sets but we just sort of muffed that up with our execution but I thought there were a lot of positive signs in the second half," Price said.
"That's what trials are for to improve what you need to get right for Round 1 and we're not going to beat ourselves up over it tonight."
The coach declared Matt Cooper (calf) and winger Jason Nightingale certain starters for the Round 1 meeting against premiers Melbourne despite failing to complete the match but revealed hooker Mitch Rein will undergo scans on his injured shoulder on Monday.