Rugby league immortal Andrew Johns has declared South Sydney a genuine contender for the NRL title this year after stretching their winning streak to five with a 22-14 victory over Cronulla.
The Sharks entered the clash on Friday as the hottest team in the NRL but were quickly brought down to earth by a relentless Rabbitohs side missing four stars to State of Origin.
Every member of their starting forward pack cracked the 100-metre barrier, Adam Reynolds' kicking game was on song, while youngster Adam Doueihi deputised at fullback with aplomb.
The five victories on the trot is the most since the Rabbitohs' breakthrough premiership in 2014.
"The form they're showing tonight, they look like a genuine threat for the premiership... they are the real deal," Johns said during commentary for Channel Nine.
The Sharks are just the latest victims in a run that has also claimed St George Illawarra and the Warriors, however the Rabbitohs were quick to pour cold water on their premiership credentials.
"I understand that with winning some games in a row that there'd be some comments like that thrown around our side," coach Anthony Seibold said.
"But I think one thing we've done particularly well as a group is just diving into our next job.
"I'm not getting carried away. I was really proud of the guys tonight... There may be some comments like that but we're a pretty grounded group."
Stand-in skipper Sam Burgess also played down any talk of being a premiership force.
"It's a great win but the competition itself keeps you pretty honest. We're seeing a lot of results go ways you probably wouldn't expect," he said.
"The moment you start getting ahead of yourself or anything like that, you get beat."
Youngster Braidon Burns could be facing some time on the sidelines after suffering a suspected knee injury, however Seibold confirmed Alex Johnston should be available to take on Gold Coast next week.