Michael Maguire is pleased to see players he fostered at South Sydney flying at the top of the NRL table, but more intent on having his rapidly-improving Wests Tigers join them.
Maguire is poised face the Rabbitohs for the first time since being sacked as coach two years ago, midway through a four-season deal.
The mentor who famously led the foundation club to a drought-breaking premiership in 2014 couldn't even utter the name of his previous employer when asked about his emotions heading into Saturday's contest at ANZ Stadium.
"I'm all about the Wests Tigers now," Maguire said on Thursday.
Seven Rabbitohs players still remain from the triumphant side that beat Canterbury in the grand final, including Clive Churchill medallist Sam Burgess.
And thirteen remain from the squad he last coached in 2017 - three of whom Maguire handed their first grade debuts to that season.
One of them, Cameron Murray, is widely tipped to be named in the NSW State of Origin team on Sunday for game one in Brisbane.
Asked if he still takes pride in the players he coached at Redfern, Maguire admitted: "It's great to see players that you debut and you've had some good times with.
"But I think my focus is very much about now.
"It's good to see those guys excelling, but we know that we're going to be playing against a strong performing team each week."
The Tigers' strong start under Maguire has drawn comparisons to his first year at the Rabbitohs, when he took them from 10th to within one game of the premiership decider.
He also achieved instant success in his first major coaching gig at Wigan, where he took the English powerhouse from qualifying finalists to premiers in his first year.
This year's Tigers are currently in seventh spot with a 5-5 record, and were leading title heavyweights Melbourne with five minutes to play last week.
"That's what I expected when I first came here," Maguire said.
"I saw that from the outside when I came into the organisation and that's off the back of those boys committing to the things that they want to improve at.
"I've shared a few experiences of what I've seen in previous teams and how quickly they can grow. And I'm seeing that here."
Australian Associated Press