Trent Robinson reckons the Roosters are in Adam Reynolds' head.
If the premiers are the NRL's new team "that everyone hates" as Reynolds offered during the week, then they're distracting the South Sydney skipper from the real task at hand.
Wayne Bennett says he occupies a similar spot between Latrell Mitchell's ears.
"I know what's going through his head," Bennett said of Mitchell, his star signing, 24 hours before he squares off with the teammates he won two titles with.
"I know what he wants to do and how he wants to play. The thing is you've got to get him to that place without him overcooking it and thinking about it too much and worrying about it too much.
"It's a balance to get that right and I'm sure he will."
Robinson says Reynolds is wasting his energy
Mitchell's move across Anzac Parade last December has dialled the heat up nicely on rugby league's oldest rivalry. Even if the game's greater good, a May 28 return ahead of all but a few of the world's sporting codes, is rightly dominating headlines.
Rumours of Mitchell trading foundation clubs started around this time last year.
And they were denied right up until he was trotted out at Redfern in a Rabbitohs polo, accepting far less money than was originally on offer, then withdrawn, to stay put at Moore Park or move to the Tigers.
Right as the contract circus was ready to wrap up, the Roosters agitated for more than $100,000 of Mitchell's off-season wage to be back paid by their old rivals, a demand largely unheard of when it comes to NRL horse trading.
Russell Crowe's Book of Feuds is due for a new chapter or two. If not for Mitchell's move, then for Angus Crichton and Luke Keary.
Or the spat involving that same pair and Cody Walker at the SCG last year, over a barb Walker denied supplying.
The tension two years ago too, when Robinson had to go on record denying any Roosters' involvement in an off-field scandal that engulfed Sam Burgess on the 2018 finals series, from which Burgess was later cleared of any wrongdoing.
The rivalry has bubbled and boiled over the years largely pending the premiership chances of each club, along with slights small and large slung from both sides.
Robinson and Mitchell's old teammates wish him nothing but the best, his old coach claiming he won't be targeted by Keary's aerial kicking game at fullback.
But Mitchell's protracted exit and eventual landing with the old enemy adds yet another edge.
"I think [the rivalry] should be strong, based on location and based on history," Robinson said.
"That's why we're playing tomorrow night… the first Friday night free-to-air fixture is this game because I know they know of the rivalry.
"Any interest in the game is sparked by the personalities of our game. We want people throughout Australia and New Zealand but also around the world to watch that rivalry and that to come across."
Roosters v Rabbitohs - Round 3
Cameras will be trained on Mitchell throughout, in a game that has had a 10-week lead-in thanks to the coronavirus hiatus.
Bennett declared they will find him at fullback for the full 80 minutes – "he won't be getting replaced", and in decent nick.
"His training form has been about 75 per cent above what it first was when we first started the season," Bennett said.
"He came back with the weight that he left – he left at 106 [kilos] and came back at 106.
"That's made the difference for him, it's helped him enormously. He's been able to do all the sessions without any injury problems.
"We've made no big deal about his game tomorrow night, it'll be a big enough game for him playing against his former teammates."
Mitchell's track record in big games speaks for itself. But Bennett is right, the 22-year-old is still finding his way around the kitchen.
Among other things leading into the competition's return, Souths have had a bit on their plate.
James Roberts won't play this week – "he's just not in good enough shape" after returning from a rehab facility – but could be back next.
Bennett bristled at times during his pre-game press conference on Thursday.
He refused to answer queries on Cody Walker and the club's $20,000 fine because he did not disclose last year's off-field incident to the Integrity Unit.
A line on favourite son Greg Inglis signing with Warrington, coming after NRL rivals kicked up a stink over the salary cap implications, was treated with similar contempt.
As a first-time captain of a junior club Reynolds grew up a well-struck Steeden down the road from, the cheeky No.7 has dealt with the same dramas.
And yet he found time this week to sling his barb at the Roosters, to the bemusement of Robinson.
"I can't speak on behalf of every other club, there is obviously reasons why everyone hates them but for us it's about that rivalry," Reynolds said.
Rugby league is back, with its favourite rivalry as fierce as ever.