South Sydney prop Thomas Burgess expects master coach Wayne Bennett to add fuel to the fire ahead of Friday’s grudge match against Brisbane and besieged former Rabbitohs coach Anthony Seibold.
Bennett holds a 2-1 advantage over Seibold since both coaches swapped between Redfern and Red Hill prior to the 2019 season.
This includes a 38-6 hammering in Souths’ favour in their first match-up in round 8 last year.
In the lead-up to that win, Bennett played Seibold off a break with his calculated comments in the media in a bid to rattle the ex-Rabbitohs mentor.
Since then, the pair have exchanged a series of sledges every time they come up against each other.
Burgess believes Bennett will add another chapter to the coach’s budding rivalry this week.
“Wayne will probably take it on himself to make a bit of a thing about it,” Burgess said.
“But it is what it is.
“We’ve played them already this year, and we have to put our best foot forward to try and get a bit of a roll on this season.”
Under-fire Brisbane coach Anthony Seibold, who replaced Wayne Bennett at the Broncos. Picture: AAP Image/Dan PeledSource:AAP
The Rabbitohs’ finals aspirations go on the line when they host the battling Broncos.
Brisbane beat Souths back in round 2, but since then have lost nine of their past 10 matches to slump to 15th position on the ladder.
The Broncos’ slide has cast doubt over Seibold’s coaching future beyond this season.
Burgess will be hunting down Brisbane’s pack on Friday, but for now he is happy to throw his support behind under-fire Seibold.
“I wouldn’t say that I feel sorry for him – it is his job and he is handling it the way he is – he has just got to get on with it,” he said.
“It’s the business we are in – you win and lose – and I think he has handled himself well.
“He has just got to keep going with it. I wish him all the best. I always got along well with Seibs.
“But I wouldn’t say I feel sorry for him because that would indicate that he needs my support, but I think he can’t lose faith.”
Brisbane have been playing well below their best, but they will be boosted by the return of Gold Coast-bound forward David Fifita from a knee injury.
Fifita hasn’t played since round 2 when the Broncos defeated Souths 22-18 at Suncorp Stadium, and Burgess is wary of the Maroons enforcer.
“There is no denying that they (Brisbane) have got a great team,” he said.
“I think they have just struggled with confidence, but that is something that can be brought back pretty easily with the mindset.
“There is not a chance that we will be taking them lightly. They beat us in round 2 up there.”
Junior Tatola says he will always have a soft spot for his former coach. Picture: AAP Image/Michael ChambersSource:AAP
For Rabbitohs prop Junior Tatola, a clash against Seibold brings up mixed feelings.
Seibold handed Tatola his NRL debut against the Warriors in 2018, so he will always have a soft spot for the current Brisbane coach.
“Seibs took a chance on myself when I had nowhere else to go to, so I’m always going to be grateful and really appreciate what he did to get me here to Souths,” Tatola said.
“But on Friday night that won’t be on my mind. “That night (in round 2) when Brisbane played us up there, they blew us off the park.
“It is hard to see their team not going that well, but I believe they are a good team when they are on.”
Meanwhile, Burgess remains hopeful that halfback Adam Reynolds will take on Brisbane after hurting his shoulder during last week’s win over St George Illawarra.
“He (Adam) is looking a bit stiff, but I think it is a similar thing to what I had the week before,” he said.
“He should be all right. Nerves can be funny things that can take a few days, weeks or months to heal.
“He has just got to make sure that he is getting the physio, and I think the rest over the past three days has been good for him.”
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