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South Sydney Rabbitohs, Blake Taaffe, Roosters

If boom rookie Blake Taaffe helps the Rabbitohs to grand final glory on Sunday, Souths can thank a very unusual source – arch rivals Sydney Roosters.

Just three years ago, 22-year-old Taaffe was under contract to the Roosters and looked set to fulfil his destiny there.

But the Roosters didn’t fully appreciate Taaffe’s talent – and let him walk.

“Blake was an unknown and the Roosters had a very good under 20s side – he couldn’t get a game,” Taaffe’s then manager Gavin Orr recalled to Wide World of Sports.

“It looked like he would be one of those many youngsters who would be lost to the game but then former Norths forward Willie Leyshon, who was coaching the Bears, gave Taaffe a call.

“The Bears were Souths’ feeder team and Blake decided to give it another shot.

“His debut was against the Roosters and he absolutely killed them – I think it was then they realised what a mistake they made.”

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Taaffe has proved a godsend for Souths, filling Latrell Mitchell’s massive boots at fullback after the judiciary rubbed out the tryscoring ace for his much-publicised hit on Rooster Joey Manu.

Now the youngster, who is related to former Souths’ grand-final winning fullback Kevin Longbottom, is on the verge of writing his own premiership winning story… courtesy of the Roosters and the one they let go.

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