Rabbitohs try to ‘keep Cody calm’ ahead of Roosters clash
ARCH-rivals South Sydney and Sydney Roosters are refusing to mince words, predicting plenty of niggle and for tempers to be tested during Thursday's NRL local derby.
Many players on both sides of Anzac Parade have had Thursday's blockbuster circled on their calendar for months after their volatile meeting at the SCG in round one.
Cody Walker and rival Cooper Cronk created a flashpoint when they had to be separated after the Souths No.6 labelled Angus Crichton a "traitor".
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Crichton and Walker remain good friends, and were NSW teammates during this year's State of Origin game I, but it sets the scene for a tantalising return match.
"There always is (feeling) between Souths and the Roosters - there's that tension and that rivalry," Roosters fullback James Tedesco said.
"I doubt it will be much different. But that's how it's been the last two years since I got here. Everyone seems to fire up, there's always a rivalry. The crowd gets into it as well.
"I'm sure there will be a bit of niggle and that's all a part of the game.
"But we can't buy into it. If you buy into the niggle and the push-and-shove, the exchange of words, you get put off your game. That's the way I see it, I just try to focus on my game."
In round one, Souths upset the then newly-crowned premiers in what was Wayne Bennett's first game in charge of the Rabbitohs.
The Roosters have since surged and retain premiership favouritism having last week locked up second spot and a home final.
And they would be relishing the potential chance to knock their near neighbours out of the top four.
The Rabbitohs enter the game in fourth but should they lose and Manly beat Parramatta the following day, they could be relegated to fifth, therefore losing a second bite at the cherry during the finals.
It's enough to get Souths players on the front foot, with Russell Crowe's Book of Feuds seemingly not too far from their minds on Monday.
Rabbitohs fullback Alex Johnston made a point of bringing up Cronk and Walker's showdown during their last meeting, and predicted his teammate was looking forward to getting under the Roosters' skins again.
"There was a bit of beef between Cody and Cronk there," Johnson said.
"I just beat you guys to the questions. I'll bring it up first.
"I'm pretty sure it'll be pretty interesting. Cody, we'll try and keep him calm for the game.
"He's just a competitor. He loves playing footy and I think this week especially against the Roosters. He'll definitely be ready for the game."