Thomas Burgess appears set to become South Sydney's new pack leader after leading their reserve grade side to a 28-24 NRL pre-season upset of Parramatta.
Burgess was the only first-grade regular to run out for the Rabbitohs against a seasoned Eels line-up at Ringrose Park on Friday night.
And, in his first game since the departure of brothers Sam and George, Burgess stepped up with a barnstorming try in 50 minutes of action.
Corey Allan also impressed at fullback with a try and try assist, while Kaeon Koloamatangi and Jack Johns also had some good touches.
It was somewhat of a reality check for the Eels, who boasted the likes of Michael Jennings, Shaun Lane, Reed Mahoney, Marata Niukore and Nathan Brown in their line-up.
It also marked the first Eels outing for summer buy Reagan Campbell-Gillard, who produced a number of strong carries in the opening exchanges.
The former Penrith prop was solid in a 20-minute blowout, while most of the other Eels stars were also put on ice by coach Brad Arthur after halftime.
"It was a bit scrappy but we got what we needed to get out of it. We got some run into some of those forwards early. And no injuries, which was good," Arthur said.
"(Reagan) didn't have to do a lot of defence because we had a bit of ball there early but he put his hand up to have some strong carries.
"He said he felt good, his lungs felt good, which is the main thing. I just wanted to get him a blow and see how he goes."
Mahoney impressed in his typically busy first-half stint, which included a short-side grubber for winger Haze Dunster.
Jennings brushed off the cobwebs with a first-half try, although the Rabbitohs took an unlikely halftime lead through tries to Allan and Jaxson Paulo.
Paulo finished with two for the night, while journeyman Hame Sele also gave the club some food for thought as he attempts to earn a fulltime deal.
The only injury was a first-half concussion to Rabbitohs signing Corey Denniss.
Former St George Illawarra playmaker Jai Field was a late inclusion in the Eels side after his mooted move to Super League fell through.
Field played the second spell at fullback and is on a pre-season deal with the club, who have one spot remaining on their 30-man roster.