Braith Anasta.
Braith Anasta.

‘More than just a game, it’s hatred’

"IT is more than just a game. It is hatred."

That comes from a man who perfectly understands the animosity driving rugby league's greatest feud heading into Saturday's blockbuster preliminary final.

Braith Anasta grew up as a South Sydney junior and the nephew of Rabbitohs legend George Piggins before playing seven seasons at the Sydney Roosters.

And Anasta reckons come Sunday there will be fans in Sydney's eastern suburbs not wanting to show their faces in public.

"Those Souths and Roosters fans have been looking forward to this game but also dreading it," Anasta explained.

"Because they are either going to be celebrating and walking down the street with their head held high. Or they are going to be hiding in their houses for a few weeks."

 

While Anasta has no bias towards either team now, he believes it will be the Rabbitohs celebrating this week with star centre Latrell Mitchell's suspension "a huge loss".

"I tipped Souths to win the comp about two months ago and I still think Souths, especially with Latrell out," Anasta added.

"Latrell has come up with some special plays throughout the year.

"And he is kind of like Greg Inglis in the way energy comes off him. He can change the game with one play.

"I worry about who replaces him.

"I think they will probably throw (Mitch) Aubusson in.

"He has been a great stalwart for the Roosters and he can do a job.

"But it is going to be nowhere near the job obviously that Latrell does.

"And the more I look at Latrell being out, the more I fear for the Roosters."

Sydney Roosters player Latrell Mitchell and coach Trent Robinson (left) depart a judiciary hearing at NRL Central.
Sydney Roosters player Latrell Mitchell and coach Trent Robinson (left) depart a judiciary hearing at NRL Central.

In what's sure to be a volatile build-up, Rabbitohs coach Anthony Seibold lit the fuse following his side's gutsy semi-final win over St George Illawarra.

Seibold claimed the Roosters were under the most pressure, and zeroed in on the fact Trent Robinson's side had won four of the past six minor premierships but only had one grand final victory to show for it.

Not only that, after getting knocked out in this same game last year, the Roosters bought Cooper Cronk and James Tedesco to add to the NRL's most star-studded roster, which ultimately forced Mitchell Pearce to leave.

Seibold's not-so-sly dig came five weeks after he was left seething following the Rabbitohs' 18-14 loss to the Roosters.

That game finished two tries apiece when Seibold was asked if the previous week's win over Melbourne left his team "a little flat".

The Rabbitohs went into the round 22 clash without Inglis and their leading tryscorer Robert Jennings, and then lost Alex Johnston in the opening minutes, which forced Dane Gagai to fullback and young Tyrell Fuimaono to mark up on Mitchell.

Seibold was adamant then the Roosters "struggled to handle us when we went through the middle" and basically indicated his players couldn't wait for another crack at their arch rivals.

Anasta "totally agreed".

"I looked at that game too and thought the Roosters really should have put Souths away and they didn't," Anasta added.

"I thought Souths actually took more out of that game than the Roosters did.

"In terms of pressure (being on the Roosters now), at this stage of the season there is pressure on everyone.

"I like what (Seibold) is doing.

"He is putting Robinson under the microscope as a coach because he is really asking questions about their ability to ice (games) because they have been in this position so many times now.

"And if you look at it from that perspective he is right.

"If they were to go and lose this season it would be disappointing.

"It is all about winning premierships, not the minor premierships.

"So they do have a lot of pressure on them.

"But I still think Souths have a lot of pressure on them also because two months ago Souths were favourites to win the comp and the minor premiership.

"So it is a throw off from Seibold.

"He is trying to palm the pressure onto the Roosters and act like there is no pressure on Souths and they have nothing to lose.

"Mate, they have everything to lose.

"And so do the Roosters.

"They both do."



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