A war of words between Brisbane and South Sydney threatens to escalate into an all-out feud after Broncos mentor Anthony Seibold delivered a stunning rebuke to Rabbitohs assistant Jason Demetriou.
In an extraordinary lead-up to Friday night's NRL grudge match between the two clubs at Suncorp Stadium, Seibold dismissed Demetriou's criticism of his finals record and suggested he was "dirty" over missing out on his Broncos' head coach job.
"He has obviously forgotten a few things and that is probably why he is not a head coach at the moment - his attention to detail is obviously a little bit off," Seibold said.
The stage appeared set for Seibold to trade barbs with veteran South Sydney mentor Wayne Bennett ahead of this week's match after their messy coaching job swap last year.
But surprisingly it was Demetriou who came out swinging, claiming Seibold's 2018 finals campaign in his rookie NRL coaching year with South Sydney fell short because other teams had "worked his style out".
Demetriou indicated Seibold's game plan was to blame for title contenders South Sydney crashing out in the preliminary final and scoring just one try in their last two playoff appearances.
Demetriou's spray was seen as payback for Seibold claiming last week that South Sydney's attack had not changed since 2018 when he held the reins.
Seibold suggested Demetriou was jealous that he missed out on replacing Bennett as Broncos head coach.
Demetriou was in the mix after serving as deputy to Bennett at Red Hill but Brisbane instead opted for Seibold, offering him a five-year deal.
Demetriou eventually followed Bennett to the Rabbitohs this year.
"One thing I learned a long time ago is as an assistant coach you put your head down, bum up and work hard. You don't need to promote yourself," Seibold said.
"I am not sure whether he is dirty that his name hasn't come up for a couple of head coaching roles recently."
There was speculation Bennett could be behind Demetriou's comments but the South Sydney mentor rejected that on Thursday.
"Leave me out of it will you? It's got nothing to do with me. I didn't say it and I haven't told anyone to say a word about it," Bennett said.
However, he added: "If I did care about it I would say something to him (Demetriou), and I haven't said anything to him."
Asked if he had a history with Demetriou, Seibold said: "I don't know him from a bar of soap.
"I can't believe we are standing here talking about Jason Demetriou."
Seibold was happier speaking about Brisbane who sit seventh after just one loss in their last seven games.
They take on a South Sydney outfit that has fallen out of the top four for the first time after three straight losses.
Still, Seibold couldn't resist another chip when asked if Brisbane were after payback following their round eight 38-6 hammering from South Sydney.
"They were far too good for us - maybe Jason was coaching that week," he smiled.
STATS THAT MATTER
* Brisbane have won three straight games against South Sydney at Suncorp Stadium
* Bennett has won all three games coaching against Seibold
* Brisbane are averaging the most post contact metres (490m) and tackle busts (30.1 per game)
Australian Associated Press