South Sydney have dialled up the pressure on the Sydney Roosters as their arch-rivals attempt to brush aside a recent lacklustre record in NRL grand final qualifiers.
Coach Anthony Seibold and his Rabbitohs have gleefully accepted underdog status heading into Saturday's preliminary final at Allianz Stadium, describing the minor premiers as being under a weight of expectation.
After entering the year as $17 premiership outsiders, the Rabbitohs are now one win away from their second grand final appearance in five years.
Comparatively, the Roosters came into 2018 as $5 title fancies following the recruitment of Cooper Cronk and James Tedesco.
Also history is on the Roosters' side - since the NRL finals format was revamped in 2012, the minor premiers have won four from four preliminary finals after having week two off.
Some have suggested that anything less than a premiership over the next two seasons - during Cronk's time at the Bondi Junction club - will be viewed as a failure.
It's a suggestion that coach Trent Robinson has curtly dismissed.
But Seibold said his side was going in with nothing to lose and the Roosters were the ones who were tipped to advance.
"Externally there was no expectation on us as a group," Seibold said.
"I'm sure externally there was a lot of expectation on the Roosters, at the end of the day they added James Tedesco and Cooper Cronk who are two outstanding players.
"Everyone expected them to be in a game like this or be in a grand final or be minor premiers or whatever else.
"All we can do is go over there and give a good account of ourselves. In the two games we've played against them this year we've shown that if we play our best football, we're hard to handle."
The Roosters are aiming to get back to the grand final for the first time since 2013, having fallen a game short on three occasions since then.
In 2014, 2015 and 2017 they reached the preliminary final, only to be knocked out.
Seibold said his side was determined to make the most of their rare opportunity and extend their local rivals' unhappy record in grand final qualifiers.
"It's certainly not (just another game). We're very excited about the opportunity that's in front of us," Seibold said.
"We've worked damn hard to put us in this grand final qualifier.
"I think back to the work the players have done since November 1st. They're an incredibly hard-working group and we deserve to be in this game."
Australian Associated Press