Broncos coach Anthony Seibold has fired back at Rabbitohs assistant Jason Demetriou as the build-up to Friday's clash between the clubs goes into overdrive.
Demetriou fanned the flames for the Brisbane coach's riposte in a News Ltd report when he criticised his coaching record in the finals last year when Seibold was in charge of the Rabbitohs.
Demetriou, formerly the Broncos assistant coach, said that under Seibold last year South Sydney hit a brick wall in the finals where "on the biggest stage in the biggest games their attack fell down".
"Last year in 160 minutes of football under Seibold in the finals, his Souths team managed just one try," Demetriou said.
Seibold suggested the Rabbitohs assistant had selective memory.
"Jason's attention to detail is a little bit off with some of the comments that I believe he made. He obviously forgot about the 28 points that South Sydney scored last year in the first final against the Melbourne Storm," Seibold said.
"If I reflect back on the last two games he's been involved on in semi-final footy he was part of a team that got beaten 30-nil against Melbourne away [in 2017] and part of the team that was beaten 48-18 [by the Dragons in 2018]. My advice to Jason would be to work hard and let your work do the promotion for yourself.
"With regards to Jason, one thing I learned a long time ago is that as an assistant coach you put your head down and your bum up and you work hard.
"You don't need to promote yourself. I am not sure if he is dirty that his name hasn't come up for a few head coaching roles or not."
It is a comment by Seibold after Brisbane's 24-12 win over Penrith last week has got under South Sydney's skin. Speaking about the Rabbitohs style in 2019, Seibold said "not a lot's changed from an attacking point of view from what I can see from last year, so they throw plenty at you."
Rabbitohs players Sam Burgess, Adam Reynolds and Damien Cook all took umbrage with those remarks with Burgess labelling the comments "bizarre" and speculating that Seibold had some kind of "agenda".
Seibold explained his remarks on Thursday.
"I was actually giving South Sydney a wrap. I meant that Cody Walker is in the top two or three attacking players in the competition, Damien Cook is dynamic out of dummy half and Adam Reynolds has the best kicking game in the competition, so I was actually giving their team a wrap," Seibold said.
Seibold said he respected Burgess and had no issue with his comments. With regard to Demetriou he said "I don't know him from a bar of soap".
Demetriou missed out on the Broncos head coaching role last year and in his interview with the Brisbane selection panel compared his own coaching record to that of Seibold's. Demetriou won four titles at Queensland Cup, NSW Cup and NRL state Championship level with the Northern Pride and Illawarra Cutters.
He said in his interview that he had a better record than Seibold.
"You guys know, as I do, that he likes to promote himself and tell you how good his statistics are. I'll let him do that," Seibold said of Demetriou.
"I got the advice a long time ago when I first started in this game that as a lower grade coach you put your head down, work hard and your opportunities will come so I am not sure where that came from. I think he has got bigger problems than having a look at my finals record."
Seibold said he doubted that Rabbitohs coach Wayne Bennett was the master puppeteer behind Demetriou's remarks. Regardless, he said the comments would not mess with his head.
"I don't think Jason throwing some stats out is mind games. He has said it and he has forgotten a couple of things and that's probably why he isn't a head coach at the moment. His attention to detail is a bit off," Seibold said.
"I don't really care. He should worry about his own team. Don't worry about my finals record. I can't believe we are sitting here talking about Jason Demetriou leading up to a Broncos versus South Sydney game."
Seibold confirmed winger Corey Oates would take the field on Friday night after a training scare on Monday saw him leave a session early with a minor leg injury.
The Broncos, in seventh position on the Telstra Premiership ladder, are on track for a finals berth but Seibold said they must continue to improve to finish in the top eight.