South Sydney players have made a pact not to publicly discuss the team’s elimination in the past two preliminary finals, the club’s 43-year premiership drought or the possibility of a historic NRL grand final appearance.
With the game’s oldest and most successful club again within sight of an elusive 21st premiership, the increasing hype around the Rabbitohs was noticeable from the number of fans and media at training on Tuesday.
The four commercial and pay television networks had nine camera crews and most media outlets sent more than one reporter.
But while the players were relaxed, it was clear they had been instructed by coach Michael Maguire to avoid talking about anything other than Friday night’s clash with the Sydney Roosters at ANZ Stadium.
“It has been mentioned,” star fullback Greg Inglis said. “It has come from the coach and filters from senior players downwards.”
Before joining Souths in 2011, Inglis played for Melbourne and he said there had been far less pressure at the Storm during the finals than at a club with so much history and support.
“It is totally different scenery, it is all about AFL down there and here it is all about rugby league,” Inglis said. “South Sydney is a rich history club and we just have to block the noise out. Everyone is talking about the drought that South Sydney has had and we acknowledge and respect the past but we have just really got to concentrate on what this team can do.”
Rabbitohs captain John Sutton had a similar reply when asked about the club’s last grand final win in 1971.
He also answered questions about what Souths had learnt from their 2012 and 2013 preliminary finals losses to Canterbury and Manly by saying it was a different team this year with seven new faces – a point Maguire has repeatedly made in recent weeks.
“If you look around downstairs, all the history is up on the walls and all the boys know about the history of this club but it is not about the past, it is about what we can do this week and making sure we train well and prepare well for this game,” Sutton said.
“We are looking forward … what is in the past is gone, I can’t control that. All I can control is what I do at training today and making sure everything is spot on. I can take what we got out of that last game, against Manly. We played good for 65 minutes and not the 80 [minutes], so we have got to make sure we play for 80 minutes this week.”
Despite beating the Sea Eagles 22-18 in their qualifying finals match to earn last weekend, the players received a huge spray from Maguire when they returned to the dressing room at full-time for conceding three unanswered tries in the last 15 minutes.
Sutton and halfback Adam Reynolds said it was one of the biggest bakes Maguire had given the team in his three seasons at Souths and the players knew they could not afford to drop off against the Roosters.
“It was up there, it was good because we needed it,” Sutton said. “Madge pretty much summed it up, it’s an 80 minute game and we only played for 65 minutes and in these big games we need to play for 80 minutes and we didn’t do that and we copped a spray and we deserved it.”
Reynolds said: “It wasn’t the prettiest bake that we have copped but that is just the passion and the joy Madge has got for our footy team. You can’t win games of football, especially semi-final football, playing for 60 minutes and especially up against a quality side like the Roosters. They are the minor premiers and been on top of their game for a while now so we are going to have to be on top of our game and play for the full 80 minutes.”
This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.