Penrith Panthers halfback Nathan Cleary has responded to allegations of arrogance among the two-time premiership squad, claiming the assertion is well off the mark but also a by-product of being at the top of the game.
Criticism has primarily come from the usual corners, with Fox Sports' Paul Kent nearly having a conniption after a number of antics including James Fisher-Harris' “we hate Parra” chant and Jarome Luai's 'they're our sons' comment.
Cleary says the hate is a consequence of the enormous success the team has enjoyed.
“It's an easy target when you're at the top,” Cleary told the Daily Telegraph.
“If you're successful and doing well then there are always people who want to tear you down.
“I love all the boys that I play alongside and I don't think any of them are arrogant. If we were arrogant, I don't think we would have gone back-to-back – there's no ego in what we do.
“I don't really get frustrated (by the claims). It's unfair on some of our players, the way they're portrayed in the media. It's hard to control
“We all know who we are as people and what we'd do for each other. That's the main thing we care about, what's said in the inner sanctum.”
Cleary also went to lengths to defend halves partner Jarome Luai, who has repeatedly faced these kind of accusations throughout the season as he refuses to compromise his character for the sake of toeing a line.
“People enjoy watching him, because he's a character,” Cleary said of Luai.
“Sometimes he'll say stuff that riles people up and riles opponents, but that's what we enjoy.
“He's comfortable in his own skin. He's allowed to be himself around our environment and the culture we have.”