Penrith boss Phil Gould has attempted to downplay anger over his "soft competition" comments used by NRL rival Cronulla as motivation to defeat the Panthers.
Sharks coach Shane Flanagan admitted after Sunday's 28-2 win being "filthy" with Gould for last month claiming their maiden NRL premiership in 2016 came in what "ended up being a fairly soft competition".
Cronulla players shouted "three cheers for Gus" in the Pepper Stadium dressing rooms after the match on Sunday.
Captain Paul Gallen later confirmed Gould's remarks were raised in preparation for the game.
Gould has denied his comments, which described the Sharks as the "last man standing" as competition favourites floundered, were intended to undermine their premiership.
"That wasn't a criticism of the Sharks," Gould told News Corp Australia.
"They might have won it if it was the toughest competition in the world. They were the best team, which I tipped all year.
"If they want to take umbrage to that, it's their business."
The response comes after Flanagan unloaded on the Panthers general manager after the win on Sunday.
"I am filthy with Gus saying we won in a soft competition," he said.
"You could find 100 takes from Gus during the year about how tough the competition is.
"There is no premiership, especially in this competition, that is soft. And he knows it."
© AAP 2017