City forward Tom Symonds says he and his teammates will have to "expect the unexpected" from their coach Brad Fittler during the week ahead of the game against Country in Tamworth on Sunday.
Symonds played eight games under Fittler while at the Roosters in 2009 and knows all about the unique influence the City mentor will bring to the team this week.
The Bondi United junior has been named as the side's 18th man but is keen to fight his way into the final 17 so he can add to the two City caps he earned in 2011 and 2013 – both won 18-12 by Country.
"'Fred' knows what I can do," the former Rooster told NRL.com as the team first assembled on Monday morning.
"He's coached me before a few times and he normally gives me some pretty simple instructions to do what I do best. The week ahead with him is going to be good."
A relaxed Symonds said Fittler's laidback approach was an ideal fit given the short preparation and the lack of combinations within the squad.
"He's always good for a few laughs and he's a character so that will make it even more enjoyable for the boys," the 27-year-old continued.
"He's very light-hearted and a really funny fella so he's always great to have around camp. He's been doing this job for a little while now and I think he's really happy to get the boys together every year and get them pumped about the week ahead."
Symonds was quick to rubbish suggestions the annual event meant more to those from Country, telling NRL.com that Fittler and his coaching staff had been pivotal in past years in maintaining the pride in the City jersey.
The City Origin coach is preparing for his fifth game in charge of the annual representative fixture and is searching for his second win since taking over in 2012.
"I can only speak from past experiences, but he's definitely got that way of instilling the importance of the jersey into the team," Symonds said.
"I'm sure he'll have a few good stories for us and a few things off the cuff and a few weird things that he likes to include.
"He's got a good support network around him with a couple of former players that have been here before."
Symonds will head into Sunday's clash without a couple of his Manly teammates, but is confident the Trbojevic brothers will forge storied representative careers despite being forced out of the contest through injury.
Jake Trbojevic was originally named but was quickly ruled out, while his younger brother Tom would have most likely been selected had he not sustained an ankle injury on Anzac Day.
"Jake is an absolute freak of a player. He's got all the skills," their fellow Sea Eagle said.
"He's got everything a front-rower needs – he can run hard and tackle hard – but he can also pass and he set up a try with a kick on the weekend so he's the complete package.
"He's such a humble guy and he's just such a good, shy kid. He's very well respected amongst everyone at the Sea Eagles.
"I'm sure he (Tom) would have been in the mix here if he had been fit. He's another great talent. In a few years' time he'll be hitting his straps and running rings around a few boys."
Meanwhile, Symonds jokingly rubbished reports Sea Eagles skipper Jamie Lyon was planning to make the short trip from Brookvale to Palm Beach once his playing days were over to star on Home and Away after Cowboys coach Paul Green suggested he deserved a "BAFTA, Golden Globe and Academy Award nomination" for his theatrics on the weekend.
"I'm not sure that would be Killer's scene. I think you'll find him on the golf course to be honest. I think he's all about hanging out with a few mates on the golf course with a few schooners and keeping things very low key."
This article first appeared on NRL.com