Rugby league great Cameron Smith believes Penrith need to block out the outside noise ahead of their semi-final clash with Parramatta.
The Panthers entered the finals as one of the favourites to win the competition, but were upset 16-10 by a professional and disciplined South Sydney outfit in their Qualifying Final last Saturday.
Now facing a sudden death clash with the Eels, Smith believes Ivan Cleary’s side must focus on what they can control in the lead up to the game.
“I’d just talk about what we can and what you can control,” Smith said on SEN 1170 The Captain’s Run.
“It’s not about what the media or the fans, or the general public say about us and what we should be doing, who we should be beating or how much we should be winning by.
“You can’t control peoples’ opinions, but what you can control is your own performance and the way you prepare for each game
“You should have an air of confidence about your own ability and your team’s ability, that when you go out and play well you win.
“I’m not saying this Penrith side go out on the field each week and just expect it’s going to happen, but you’ve got to also understand that there’s a lot of work to go into it.”
With such a young group experiencing significant regular season success, Smith believes some of their players may have fallen into the trap of believing how good the public was telling them they were.
“Last year they won 17 games in a row, and there was a lot of talk that this team is young and they’ve grown up together to form some kind of dynasty,” Smith added.
“Sometimes you can fall into the trap of listening to the outside noise, and just believe that you can pull on your Penrith jersey, go out and win because you’re better than everyone else.
“The victories aren’t going to be handed to you by anyone, particularly with three weeks left in the competition.
“They’ve got a tough game this week against Parramatta, and if they’re lucky enough to get through that they’ve got Melbourne.
“It’s a tough road for them now.”
The Panthers face the Eels this Saturday night at BB Print Stadium in Mackay.
The winner faces the Melbourne Storm in a Preliminary Final the following Saturday to book a place in the 2021 NRL Grand Final.