Andrew Johns inadvertently drew the ire of South Sydney Rabbitohs fans before their exit from the NRL finals at the hands of the Penrith Panthers on Saturday night.
Penrith advanced to a grand final showdown with Parramatta next Sunday night after dismantling the Rabbitohs 32-12 in their preliminary final clash at Accor Stadium.
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The Eels have had the wood over the minor premier Panthers this year, winning two of the three matches the two sides have played.
That was the topic of conversation during an interview with Mitchell Moses on Friday night after Parramatta sealed their place in the grand final with a 24-20 win over North Queensland.
Johns asked Moses on Channel 9: “You’ve beaten Penrith twice this year, why do you trouble Penrith, your style of play?”
Moses responded: “Mate, I’m not too sure. They’re a great side. I think we like to go set-for-set with them and I feel they like to play that style of footy as well.
“Whoever we’re playing next week, it will be a tough game but, you know, we’re ready."
The only problem with Johns' question was the fact he seemed to assume that Penrith would make the grand final, despite the fact they hadn't even played the Rabbitohs yet.
Souths fans were quick to accuse Johns of disrespect towards their club.
One fan wrote online: “What about Andrew Johns asking Moses about Penrith in the post-match interview - like they’ve already won? A lot of Souths fans are pissed off."
Another wrote: “No mention of Souths like Penrith had it in the bag."
Glad you mentioned this! It was as if Penrith had already won the game tonight!
— Michael Fenech (@MichaelFenech1) September 24, 2022
At no point did he insinuate the result of tonight was a foregone conclusion. Curiosity over how to beat Panthers in a GF was more like it. This is classic Souths fans. Overreaction to absolutely nothing. Nice beat up.
— Nath White (@RadioNowhere75) September 24, 2022
Andrew Johns should not be on television at all he’s an embarrassment at best !
— emmanuel (@Mannies3Y) September 24, 2022
Penrith hold no fears against Parramatta
Johns ended up being right in the end, with the Panthers proving too good for the Rabbitohs.
The Panthers will start the grand final as overwhelming favourites despite the Eels winning two of three matches played between the two sides this year.
Crucially, Parramatta's two wins both came in the regular season, but Penrith prevailed when the sides met again in the first week of the finals.
And Panthers coach Ivan Cleary is certain the Eels hold no mental edge over his side, insisting Parramatta's record will mean nothing come the grand final.
Next Sunday's decider has lined up as a promoter's dream for the NRL, with the first genuine arch-rivalry match in a decider since Parramatta played Canterbury in 1986.
Penrith will start as firm favourites, having swept all before them in the past three years - their only blemish being a defeat in the 2020 decider to Melbourne.
But if there is one team that can enter a big match against Penrith with real belief, it's Parramatta.
The Eels remain the only team to have beaten anything close to a full-strength Panthers this year, in round nine, before backing that victory up in round 20.
They were the only team to defeat the Panthers in the 2020 regular season, and troubled them again in last year's semi-final.
"They don't have a mental edge over us, no," coach Cleary said.
"The two games we lost, there's some context around that. I mentioned that at the time.
"But we've had a lot of games with them where it could have gone either way."
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