No joke: Bulldogs up for GF re-match
The weeks can get a little repetitive in rugby league land, around about the time the temperature begins to drop and the winter footy grind kicks into gear.
But when there's a decline in Des Hasler's comedy routine during the week – as Bulldogs newbie Michael Lichaa attested to on Wednesday – then suddenly the scent of vengeance is palpable.
"I think all the boys are pretty excited, a bit more than usual. Des is a bit more intense so I can definitely tell it's going to be a big game," Lichaa described of their lead up to the grand final re-match.
"He's dropped his jokes for the week so far. We haven't had any of them. You can just feel it around the place – everyone's pretty excited."
The former Sharks hooker was a keen observer when he watched his future teammates go down to South Sydney 30-6 in last year's decider all the way from Bali.
And while much of this week's build-up has naturally centred around the inevitable re-match, Lichaa has been wise enough to avoid asking any of last year's squadron regarding the events of that day.
Let's call it, as Hasler would suggest, Voldemort.
"No one really talks [about it] among the boys. And I don't really wanna ask them too many questions about that either," he said.
"The boys that played in the grand final and lost, they obviously think about it a fair bit. That last 20 minutes the score blew out and it obviously sounds like a one-sided game.
"But for a lot of them it was so close right up until that last little bit. I'm pretty sure all the boys will be pretty pumped for the game."
Teammate Tim Browne suggests the excitement wafting through Belmore this week has more to do with the standard of opposition than any five-month long grudge.
"I wouldn't say in relation to the grand final so much. Maybe just because it's the team we're playing. Everyone knows that they're the benchmark side in the competition at the moment," Browne said.
"They're playing some good footy and they're the teams you want to play against. So that's probably why."
But that doesn't mean it was easy for the Bulldogs benchie to let it go. In fact, the popular front-rower watched a replay of the grand final defeat a total five times before the pre-season.
Just to, you know, "improve".
"I suppose you get so close to the grand prize and then you fall short, so there's always that extra motivator to come back and put in the hard yards in pre-season and fight for it again this year. We're like every team. It adds to my motivation, yeah definitely," he said.
"After the initial moment had passed, I suppose you have to let it go. What do you do? You can't dwell on it. You gotta move on. Myself personally, I tried to move on as quick as I could and look forward to this year."