South Sydney are already playing down expectations ahead of the side’s first Grand Final appearance since 1971, with the simple message: we haven’t won anything yet.
Rabbitohs fans in their early 40s haven’t even felt so much as the pain of a Grand Final loss, with their side not even so much as featuring in a competition decider in 41 years, but senior Rabbitohs players say they’ll be pushing those external pressures to one side – whilst encouraging the rest of the rugby league community and especially their fans to enjoy what is sure to be an emotional week for many.
The emotion looked to be already telling on club skipper John Sutton, who has played more games for the club than anyone else in its proud history.
Sutton looked to be trying to keep his emotions in check in the post-match press conference when he spoke of seeing his parents straight after the game.
“It's great – to see mum and dad out there, mum was crying, I've been around this club for a long time,” Sutton said.
“It's going to be a special week for myself and all the players. I'm just going to enjoy it and make sure I do everything right to make sure we get the best possible performance next week.”
Sutton got his team into a on the field immediately after the game and he said he had a simple message for them: “I pretty much just said we haven't achieved anything yet. It was a great effort by the boys to fight back and get the win but we haven't achieved nothing.”
His coach Michael Maguire said he was proud of the players and really looking forward to seeing them enjoy the week ahead and getting back into their preparation.
“For us as players and staff it's quite easy to keep a lid on [the expectations]; as John alluded to, we haven't achieved [anything] yet, it's about building this week. But for everyone outside – enjoy it!"
Sutton said it was great to finally appear in a Grand Final after falling one game short in 2012 and 2013.
“I'm very proud of how the boys played out there. We haven't done anything yet but we're going to enjoy the week. It's great [to be in the Grand Final], the last two years were tough but we've got a different group, we're very tight, we showed that tonight. From 12 nil to fight back... it was a great effort.”
Fullback Greg Inglis – one of the few players in the squad to have experienced a Grand Final build up from his time at the Storm – said he would have some simple advice for the younger members of the squad.
“Embrace it and have fun, enjoy it. This week, the game's going to come up pretty quick so just take everything as it comes and really enjoy the week,” Inglis said.
“As these two [Sutton and Maguire] have said we haven't achieved anything yet so it's head down, bums up and when it's time to train it's time to train.
“We've just got to block all the external stuff out and just worry about what we can do in our circle.”