Rabbitohs players Damien Cook and Tevita Tatola aren't surprised by the early season success Wayne Bennett has had at the Dolphins.
Nor are they surprised that the Bunnies have continued to motor along without Bennett's services under his former assistant Jason Demetriou.
For Tatola in particular, he's among a plethora of players who have developed their game under Bennett and gone on to become a regular household name in the NRL.
After 24 appearances off the bench for Anthony Seibold in 2018, it was a conversation with Bennett and Dolphins prop Mark Nicholls the following pre-season which was the catalyst for both players to re-launch their careers.
"Wayne made me a starting middle and I haven’t really looked back," Tatola told NRL.com.
"He trusted me and his belief lifted my spirits when I really needed it most and when I didn't think I was going anywhere in the game. I wanted to pay him back when he was coach. It's just the way he communicates.
He shows that much belief and cares for every individual. He transformed my career and he's done it for a lot of others too.
"That's why I’m not too surprised by how well the Dolphins are going. He knows how to get his players ready and everyone who plays for him wants to do well, no matter who you are.
"We can see that coming out in the Dolphins players and how well they’ve done the first six weeks."
Both Tatola and Cook were looking forward to reuniting with Nicholls in the middle on Thursday night with the veteran the only South Sydney player to follow Bennett for their inaugural season.
Bennett named Nicholls as Dolphins captain last week after Jesse Bromwich was ruled out with a throat infection.
"That was such a smart move by Wayne to sign Mark," Cook said.
"He’s such a great guy to have around a club and just does his job on the field.
"He’s a smart player and no doubt we’ll be aware of his left foot up there, it’s very dangerous."
Tatola and Nicholls were both on the fringes at South Sydney ahead of the 2019 season before Bennett pulled them aside to give them the guarantee they'd be in the 17 by Round 1.
"From there it just kicked off where we just knew he believed in us," Tatola said.
"It’s crazy that he said that in the pre-season and there was still ages to go. 'Nich' was the best front-row partner to learn off and was in the same position as me.
"He’s been going awesome as well at the Dolphins and it will be good to take him on next week."
Of greater concern for Tatola is a possible reoccurring knee injury after he was caught awkwardly in a Bulldogs tackle early in the match on Good Friday.
"The first carry I was a bit scared and my knee buckled, I heard a click which made me even more scared but I just had to tough it out," he said.
"I came back a little bit earlier, I didn’t see why not. I wasn’t sure if it was a hip-drop at the time or a normal tackle so we'll have to wait and see once I get it checked out."
Match: Dolphins v Rabbitohs
Round 7 -
Venue: Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane