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20 Oct 2021 1:24
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  •   Home > News > International

    Wayne Bennett says Rabbitohs have been undersold ahead of preliminary final with Manly

    The Rabbitohs are playing in their fourth straight preliminary final, but the seven-time premiership coach believes they are unfairly overlooked as one of the NRL heavyweights.


    The Melbourne Storm and the Sydney Roosters have been the dominant NRL sides in recent history.

    The Storm won the 2017 and 2020 premierships, while the Roosters claimed back-to-back titles in 2018 and 2019.

    Penrith's stocks have risen during the past two seasons, on the back of a grand final appearance last year and a berth in this weekend's preliminary finals.

    But Rabbitohs coach Wayne Bennett said his side deserved to be regarded as one of the NRL benchmark teams, given the consistency the club has achieved since 2018.

    They have reached the preliminary finals in four straight years, the last three under Bennett's coaching.

    The Rabbitohs meet Manly in Brisbane on Friday night for a place in next weekend's grand final.

    "The Storm and Roosters have been called tremendous teams," Bennett said on Thursday.

    "Penrith's a tremendous team but if you look at all the stats over the last four years, South Sydney are only one win behind the three of those teams, maybe one win in front of some of them."

    Bennett, a seven-time premiership coach with the Broncos and Dragons, said he felt the Rabbitohs had been overlooked for years.

    "We don't go out there and pump ourselves up," Bennett said.

    "But I know what they've achieved and it suits us to be undersold. There's no dramas."

    Bennett said his squad had not been "dwelling on or talking about" the club's preliminary final losses between 2018 and 2020.

    "We are focussing on this match, the one that matters and can't look at the past," Bennett said.

    Rabbitohs backing themselves

    Claiming the silverware is the difference between being among the best and being the best.

    The Rabbitohs are 80 minutes away from their second grand final appearance in 50 years. They won the 2014 premiership, their first since 1971.

    Bennett said achieving a third-place finish on the ladder this season had been four years in the making.

    "We've been here [the preliminary finals] for three years, we just haven't been able to get past this point," he said.

    "That's the challenge tomorrow, but they've been a wonderful team to work with and to their credit they've got themselves back there this year."

    Bennett said he had every reason to believe the Rabbitohs could beat the Sea Eagles to qualify for the grand final.

    "The way we've prepared the whole season, the way we've played our football … they are all things to have confidence about," he said,

    Bennett said the Rabbitohs' halves pairing of Cody Walker and Adam Reynolds were the key to his side getting past the Sea Eagles.

    "If they don't bring what they bring we are going to be in a fair bit of trouble," he said.

    "But they will and we've got enormous pedigree in our forwards, so it's just a case of turning up tomorrow and doing their jobs."

    Among the Rabbitohs' most important assignments will be stopping Manly's star fullback Tom Trbojevic.

    According to Bennett, that will not be a complicated task.

    "We won't focus too much on him [Trbojevic], if he gets the ball, tackle him," he said.

    "It's pretty simple."

    Bennett will depart the Rabbitohs' head coaching role after the finals, ending a three-season tenure at Redfern.

    He remains tight-lipped about his next gig.

    "You'll be the first to know," he said.

    [sports newsletter]

    © 2021 ABC Australian Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved

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