NOT even Russell Crowe could steal the limelight from Greg Inglis at ANZ Stadium yesterday, but the South Sydney fullback credited his stunning performance to a blunt directive coach Michael Maguire delivered to senior players before the match.
With Crowe watching, Inglis turned in a performance that will probably be better remembered for the way he sent Chris Sandow into orbit after an attempted shoulder charge rather than the two tries he scored and the three he laid on for teammates.
''I keep looking at other fullbacks, Ben Barba and Billy Slater, and I just keep looking at how they persevere each and every week,'' Inglis said. ''That's where I want to lift my game to - that is the challenge that I can hopefully master.''
But it was another type of challenge that motivated the Rabbitohs to their first win in three weeks, with Maguire telling his senior players: ''If you don't do your job, you will get sacked.''
Co-captain Roy Asotasi said: ''It was all about performance. If you are not performing, he is going to get someone else to come in and do the job.''
Asotasi, who shares the captaincy with Sam Burgess, Michael Crocker, John Sutton and Matt King, said the decision to drop star hooker Issac Luke showed that Maguire does not make idle threats.
''You can go into games thinking you are comfortable where you are, but not in the South Sydney of 2012 under Michael Maguire,'' he said.
''Madge is always challenging us. It just makes sure you are on your toes. It is just like a job - if you don't do your job, you will get sacked. This week he just wanted to make sure the five captains were doing well, we are the ones who have got to lead by example, and if we go out there and do our jobs the rest of the team will follow.''
While he is not one of the five captains that Maguire spoke to, Inglis said the way they responded to the challenge laid the platform for the Rabbitohs defeat of Parramatta.
''It started with our five captains and whatever they say that is how we are going to go,'' he said. ''It goes back to them and they just led the way. Madge gave us direction but it was up to the senior players to direct us on the field and that is the way it was.''
Off the field, it is also noticeable that Maguire is in charge, as players revealed Crowe had not addressed the team in the dressing room but had spoken to certain individuals.
''It is all different now,'' Asotasi said. ''He went around talking to a few of the boys, but Madge is the boss and he looks after everything.''
England forward Burgess, who was lured to Souths by Crowe, said the players were pleased the Oscar-winning actor was able to take time out of filming his latest movie in Iceland to watch them play.
''When Rusty is in town it is nice to have him at games,'' Burgess said. ''He has got a great presence about himself and he doesn't say much when he turns up … He just gives me a bit of encouragement and always asks me to go lead the team.''
A win over Newcastle on Friday night will ensure a top-four finish for the Rabbitohs, and Inglis said the team compared favourably to the Storm sides he played in which featured in four grand finals between 2006 and 2009. ''We're definitely up there, no doubt about it,'' he said. ''I believe we have the team to do it.''
Asked about Inglis's performance, Eels captain Nathan Hindmarsh said: ''He has probably been the hardest bloke there is to tackle. You do a kick-chase and go, gee, here comes GI. I've never felt like that before.''