Penrith five-eighth Jamie Soward is nonplussed about the hostile reception he may receive in Wollongong on Sunday night. Credit: Robb Cox. Copyright: NRL Photos.
Wally Lewis was booed when he ventured into enemy territory, so Jamie Soward says he is not bothered when he cops howls of abuse from opposition crowds.
The Penrith playmaker is preparing for a verbal bashing when he returns to his old stomping ground of WIN Stadium against his former NRL club St George Illawarra on Sunday.
When the Panthers played the Dragons in June it was the first time he had come up against the side since departing Kogaragh midway through last year.
However, Sunday's game will be the first time he has run out in a Panthers jumper in front of the Red V faithful.
Soward was a part of the Dragons set up for seven years, helping the joint venture to its first premiership in 2010, before parting ways last season following a form slump.
The 29-year-old has experienced a revitalisation since moving to the foot of the mountains, helping the Panthers to third on the ladder.
He said his preparation for Sunday's match had been helped by the fact he had come up against the Dragons earlier in the year.
He described himself as an "emotional player" but said he will have no nerves in his return to WIN Stadium.
Asked if he was worried about being booed by the crowd he said it was no different to any other week, likening it to the way Brisbane, Queensland and Australian great Lewis was jeered everywhere he went.
"I'm sure I'll get bagged," he said.
"I get it everywhere mate ... I don't mind. Wally Lewis used to get bagged everywhere and he turned out to be a pretty good player."
Soward was forced to play a greater hand in the side's win against the Bulldogs on Friday night following a season-ending knee injury to halves partner Peter Wallace.
He was shifted from his usual five-eighth position to halfback in an attempt to accommodate rookie halves partner Will Smith.
Soward has played a handful of games at halfback this season but has not played as a regular No.7 since 2008.
He was critical of his previous performances at halfback this year but said he took a big leap on Friday night.
"I thought I handled it better on Friday," he said.
"I'm still learning to play halfback, because I haven't played just halfback for a while.
"We've been chopping and changing in the halves and Friday night was better. I really had a good week at training and focussed and put some pressure on myself.