South Sydney are keen to avoid a repeat of a familiar script when they travel to Townsville to play North Queensland in round 16 of the NRL on Saturday.
The Cowboys have been roundly criticised after their loss to Newcastle on Monday, with their finals credentials coming under heavy scrutiny.
The NRL’s perennial underachievers, the Cowboys sit in 11th place with a 6-8 record and their hopes of a top four finish quickly fading.
Meanwhile, Souths have reaffirmed their credentials as a premiership heavyweight over the first half of the season.
With coach Neil Henry sacked just days before, the Rabbitohs travelled to Townsville for round 21 last season to face a cornered Cowboys side who needed to win all of their six remaining games to make the finals.
Souths became victim No.1 on that list, as North Queensland surged towards a playoffs berth, and the Rabbitohs are wary of being the side that again kickstarts the Cowboys’ stop-start season.
“The Cowboys are always a very tough ask. People are questioning their form at the minute but as a team we are not,” star Rabbitohs back-rower Sam Burgess said on Wednesday.
“We are preparing for a big game up there they have a lot of star players and they are very good at home.
“Any team with (Johnathan) Thurston in it, and the players you have around him, you need to be wary.”
With only four points separating the top nine teams on the NRL ladder, hooker Issac Luke says Souths are keen to learn from past mistakes against the Cowboys.
“We are going to get shown a bit of vision from our last game up there, when they towelled us up,” Luke said.
“Obviously we are worried about training today and coming up with a plan to combat that.”
With Brent Tate out for the season due to a knee injury and Matt Scott (cheek) sidelined for six weeks, there is talk Cowboys coach Paul Green will move Thurston to halfback in an attempt to reinvigorate his side’s season.
“We just have to be on our toes no matter where Thurston plays. He is a great player and a great competitor,” Souths halfback Adam Reynolds said.
“He has shown that over his career. He is dangerous with the ball and we have to be up to the challenge.
“They are a dangerous team up there: their fans really get behind them and they are a team that lifts. We have to make sure we turn up there ready to deliver.”