Off-field dramas won't affect Eels or Rabbitohs
Their coach labelled them "garbage" following the last-start loss to the Wests Tigers, but on Monday, South Sydney players were forced to rubbish suggestions the Parramatta Eels salary cap drama would affect their preparation for Friday night's clash at Pirtek Stadium.
The Round 10 encounter will be the first time the Eels have played since preliminary sanctions were handed down for breaching the salary cap, and South Sydney players are expecting a fired-up Parramatta side on Friday, especially if they are cap compliant and able to play for points.
Speaking at the side's training base at Redfern Oval, Rabbitohs rake Damien Cook predicted Parramatta players would be unaffected by what was happening away from the field.
"They're a bunch of boys out there who love playing footy," Cook said.
"I think come Friday night, they’ve got the same job as they did in Round 1 and they're going to keep playing footy and they're going to want to win the game.
"Obviously there's some stuff in the background they can't control. They're there to play football and I think that's what they'll do on Friday night."
The South Sydney dummy-half said he was expecting a full house at Pirtek Stadium and was looking forward to what he believes will be a hostile atmosphere.
"I think the fans will be behind their players. Parramatta has done a good job this season. They're going well and I have no doubt their fans will be there to support them."
Teammate George Burgess is expecting "a normal Eels team" to handle the off-field dreams when they come out to play on Friday night.
"They'll come out hard," the English enforcer predicted.
"I don't think whatever has been going on with them will affect them too much. It can go either way if you use your emotions too much and I think they'll be smart with that."
George's older brother Sam said the onus was on South Sydney players to focus on themselves instead of the opposition.
"It's just another game of footy for us players," the 2014 Clive Churchill Medallist said.
"We've still got to prepare the same. It doesn't really make a difference to us as a team and I don't think it will for Parramatta either."
Halfback Adam Reynolds continued the trend, telling the media scrum that the men in cardinal and myrtle couldn't afford to worry about those wearing blue and gold.
"For this week it's all about us and turning things around," he said.
"It doesn't really bother their players too much from what it sounds like. I'm sure they're still confident of their season, as they should be."
The Rabbitohs have more pressing issues as they prepare for the blockbuster Round 10 clash; namely trying to end a four-game losing streak.
Cook said coach Michael Maguire had been positive during the Rep Round break and the mood around Redfern was still upbeat despite the tough start to the season.
"We need to realise that we're the 13 players on the field and we're the only ones that can get us out of this at the moment," he said.
"It's a tough time after a couple of losses. This club has been on a great run and we just need to stick together. The boys that didn't go away on the weekend spent some time together and really enjoyed each other's company."
Both Sam Burgess and Adam Reynolds agreed with Maguire's assessment that the performance against the Tigers was sub-par, with the South Sydney halfback admitting the post-game spray was warranted.
"We deserved a bit of a kick up the backside for that and that's what we got," Reynolds said.
"I don't think we've hit rock bottom. It's a long season. We've lost a few games but we're trying really hard at training to turn thing around. We're training really well as a squad but we've got to perform well on the field."