With his coach Michael Maguire accused of being a tyrant on the training paddock, South Sydney skipper Greg Inglis has defended the premiership-winning mentor ahead of the fullback's return to action against the Sharks on Sunday afternoon.
The Rabbitohs have looked nothing but flat over the past three weeks after giving up two early 22-0 leads to the Bulldogs and Brisbane before being shut out by 30 by the minor premiers Roosters last Friday.
Yet Inglis insisted it wasn't because of Maguire's techniques away as the club looks to be the first since the Broncos in 1992-93 to win consecutive premierships in a unified competition.
Any claims of Maguire's methods causing disharmony were rubbished by Inglis when speaking at Monday's Captains Call at the SCG.
"I feel fresh and the boys feel fresh. We have the right people in place to give us the necessary time away from footy when we need to and nothing has changed since Madge first took over," Inglis said.
"Madge has been holding up fine because he has a strong belief in our squad. I've been a part of teams where poor preparation has led to good performances and vice-versa so we still have the belief that we are capable of [going back-to-back] and it's in our hands.
"There are no panic stations whatsoever. We just have to turn up in the right state of mind to get going from the start. We still have that desire, hunger and belief within the group."
Considering the Rabbitohs' absentees to play the Sharks in the first week of the finals, training hard should be the least of South Sydney's worries now they're set to miss prop George Burgess for a fortnight after he was charged with a grade two contrary conduct charge for throwing a water bottle at Rooster Kane Evans from the bench.
Throw in Issac Luke's suspension and John Sutton's broken leg, and the team which takes on Cronulla is certainly a different prospect to the one which won the grand final back in October last year.
"I think everyone, whoever takes the field on Sunday, needs to step up in the squad," Inglis said.
"While we are missing those key stars, we do have a lot of belief in the players that will be taking their spots. I know they'll step up and do their job. I just have to make sure I'm doing that too."
Inglis' return from minor knee surgery after a fortnight sabbatical couldn't be timelier, as he prepares for his ninth crack at finals football.
"There was no question about being back for the first week of the finals. Obviously last week there was a bit of a question over it but we thought it was in the best interests of the team that I wasn't a passenger out there and come back 100 per cent fit," he said.
"I had what they call a floating body that floats around in the joints and if it was to be stuck in the wrong place then it would've kept me from straightening my leg out. But now it's all fine, my flexibility is back there and everything is back to normal.
"I've been doing heaps of leg weights to get the knee firing again. I need to ramp it up now because it's a quicker turnaround than the last time I hurt my knee and it's been going really well."