Finals fate on the line in Souths-Roosters blockbuster

Try as coaches and players from both clubs might, nobody is buying the argument that Friday’s meeting between South Sydney and the Sydney Roosters is "just another game".

Ahead of one of the most hotly-anticipated derbies between the NRL’s bitterest rivals, the equation is simple: for whoever loses it's season over.

"We're excited by it," said Roosters coach Trent Robinson.

"We could be playing Camden Rams this week for a spot in the finals and it wouldn't make any difference as far as opposition.

"The prize has been pretty clear for us … it just happens to be a great story and rivalry."

Both sides have 12-11 records this year and sit on 30 points, Souths ahead of the Roosters in eighth spot as a result of their superior points differential.

The Tricolours are in 10th position and need to beat the Rabbitohs and then hope either Canberra lose to Cronulla or North Queensland are defeated by Penrith to make the top eight.

At the start of the season it seemed an unthinkable proposition that both these teams would be scrapping to make it into the finals.

South Sydney's mid-season collapse has them on the cusp of becoming the first club in the NRL era to lead the competition after 11 rounds and then miss out on September football.

Their coach Jason Demetriou, who led them to last year’s preliminary final in his maiden campaign, admitted the Accor Stadium blockbuster was the most significant of his short NRL coaching career.

"Yeah, for sure (it is the biggest), but it’s not about me," Demetriou said.

"I’m part of what is a great club and I’m excited to be their head coach.

"I know for a fact these boys are ready to rip in."

Souths have spent the last week fighting fires with Demetriou’s disagreements with Sam Burgess and comments from Clive Churchill’s son, Rod, aimed at Latrell Mitchell adding to the perception that the club is struggling.

The Roosters have had their fair share of issues this year after many pundits predicted them to canter to the minor premiership.

Brandon Smith has struggled to live up to the billing as their first-choice hooker, halfback Sam Walker was dropped then injured and the circus surrounding rugby union-bound Joseph Suaalii has only compounded the issues Robinson has had to tackle.

Only in the last month, where they have won four games on the spin, have Robinson’s side looked anything like a potential title contender.

"There’ll be a lot of tension in the stadium but we want to play good footy" said Robinson, who will be without the injured Joey Manu and suspended Jared Waerea-Hargreaves.

"History is history and the reward is very clear.

"It doesn't matter who we are going to play tomorrow night. We want that reward and to do that we have to play great footy."

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