What's that old saying ... you don't win NRL premierships at Canberra Stadium in April?
Something like that. Just ask Wayne Bennett.
On a freezing night in the capital back in round eight, the master coach oversaw his side's seventh straight win.
After a sluggish start, Souths produced a scintillating 30-minute burst of rugby league either side of half-time to lock away a 34-20 triumph.
Bennett strode into the post-match press conference, face typically motionless and responses to probing journalists barely a rung above monosyllabic.
You would've thought a win over last season's preliminary finalists might have buoyed Bennett's mood. But no.
"We just mentally [are] not strong enough at the moment," Bennett grunted.
"Our attitude was good for a month there, but we just went back into old habits. We're only playing for 20 minutes, 25 minutes, that's all we played for tonight."
Benji Marshall had just become New Zealand's most capped NRL player, orchestrating several tries in another ageless performance.
"I think Benji was reading about himself all week, I thought at 36 you didn't do that any more," Bennett scowled.
This is the coaching genius of Wayne Bennett.
It was April, the season was barely a quarter old and Bennett knew these Rabbitohs had much bigger fish to fry. So why not give them a clip in the media?
He'd clearly seen something the rest of us hadn't - a week later his side was hammered 50-0 by the Melbourne Storm. Perhaps Bennett knew that beating was coming.
We - the media and wider public - never see the real Bennett.
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Those who play for him will tell you he's one of the world's best blokes, a man they'd run through brick walls for and an oratory master when delivering an after-dinner speech to a bulging room, despite his press conference persona.
And he has the media wrapped around his little finger, no better than during his first two-decade stint at the Broncos. He had Queensland journalists on speed dial, and wasn't afraid of feeding them leads if it crafted an advantage for his football team.
During the same press conference after that April win in Canberra, Bennett was repeatedly queried about the future of star half Adam Reynolds. The seasoned Sydney journalist kept throwing jabs, and Bennett kept swatting them away.
This narrative, in Bennett's mind, was all about Souths getting too far ahead of themselves. More than five months on from that round-eight win, and Bennett's post-match tactics have worked wonders.
Reynolds only has 80 more minutes to play in red and green before joining the Broncos, but it's clear that hasn't been a distraction.
And his teammates either side of him have been brilliant, despite the suspension of Latrell Mitchell which so easily could have derailed this premiership tilt.
Penrith are a brilliant side, and Ivan Cleary is clearly squeezing every last drop out of his young side. But it's hard to see Bennett not cradling an eighth premiership come full-time on Sunday night.
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