Sunday session: Greg Inglis goes through his paces at Redfern Oval. Photo: Dean Sewell
Greg Inglis described the last round loss to the Sydney Roosters as South Sydney's worst performance under Michael Maguire, but believes the defeat triggered a renewed determination in the Rabbitohs.
While they lost by only 12 points in the game that cost them the minor premiership in round 26, the Rabbitohs were as disjointed as they've looked since Maguire took over at the start of last year.
The Rabbitohs turned it around in the first week of the finals to overcome Melbourne for the first time in five games under Maguire, however Inglis believes the loss to the arch rivals in the final round of the regular season was the wake-up call his side needed heading into the finals.
''We knew it was probably our poorest performance that we've put in for the last 18 months,'' Inglis said of the match against the Roosters. ''We were pretty disappointed in ourselves. Our coach knew what we were capable of and we knew as a playing group that what we dished out against the Roosters wasn't acceptable. During the week [leading into Melbourne] we just had that feeling that we knew we were going to go out and do the best we can.
''If we didn't walk away with the win we would've knew we had plenty of things to improve on but we did walk away with the win, which is a great thing. It definitely was enjoyable and the confidence is very high. But all can be undone in an 80-minute performance. We really have to enjoy the process and enjoy training and best prepare for an 80-minute performance next week.''
A knee injury has plagued the Queensland and Australian international for most of the second half of the season, but Inglis believes the week off has aided his recovery. He described it as ''the most talked about knee in Australia at the moment'', but insists the knee won't hamper his performance against Manly on Friday night.
''It's finals and there's always something to talk about but I don't know if it's that,'' Inglis said. ''The knee is fine though. It was a blessing in disguise to have a week off. Our week has pretty much been based on more recovery but still preparing and training like we were playing this week.''
Inglis has plenty of finals experience, having played in several playoff campaigns with the Storm.
There is mixed opinion over the significance of the week off in the finals. There is an argument that it favours the team that played the week before rather than the team with a two-week break, and while Inglis admits it can often work against the team with the break, he insists the week off was invaluable for his fitness. ''Individually for myself it has helped me a lot,'' he said.
''But in saying that when you get that roll on … it can be very unpredictable and it's 50/50 from here on in. You have to turn up ready to play. We're obviously fit and healthy but we have to turn up ready to play. From here on in anybody can beat anybody.
''Training throughout the week, it feels like we were playing. There were obviously a few more recovery sessions in there than we've had in the past week, but it was pretty enjoyable.''