Former coach Des Hasler used to revel in underplaying the strengths of his Manly team, but frontrower George Rose says the 2012 Sea Eagles are most definitely flying under the radar.
Victory for the premiers over North Queensland in Townsville on Saturday will see them leapfrog the Cowboys and move into fourth spot on the NRL table.
Hasler’s Canterbury and South Sydney are receiving all the plaudits at the top of the ladder, with Brisbane and Melbourne’s lack of form also coming under scrutiny.
And this has allowed the sixth-placed Sea Eagles to creep almost unnoticed towards the top four, something that suits Rose and his mates.
“We’ve been a bit down the ladder, but we know a couple of more wins will give us a good finishing spot at the end of the season,” Rose told AAP.
Anthony Watmough’s successful downgrading of a dangerous contact charge at the NRL judiciary on Wednesday and the return to fitness of Brett Stewart means Sea Eagles coach Geoff Toovey will be able to pick a full-strength side.
It will be the first time since round one that Toovey has had all of his stars available and Rose said they’ll all be needed for what he considers the hardest roadtrip in the NRL.
“I think it is (the hardest), because they are such a great side, it is a fair (distance) trip as well and weather-wise Townsville is very different to Sydney at the moment,” he said.
“I am sure it will be a lot warmer than it is down here and we haven’t trained in the heat for a few months.
“They also have some forwards who are playing great footy. Their Aussie reps Matt Scott and James Tamou are two of the real form frontrowers in the comp.
“It is going to be a big test for us to contain them.”
The trip to North Queensland comes on the back of a stirring come-from-behind win against the Warriors in Perth last week.
Trailing by eight points with seven minutes remaining, two Daly Cherry-Evans tries sealed a memorable victory, but Toovey has warned his men they need to improve against the Cowboys and their always dangerous fullback Matt Bowen.
“He’s in great form at the moment and has been hot to trot,” Toovey said.
“He’s a great athlete, has great speed, you can’t coach speed, and he is a player people want to watch and we have to be very mindful of him.”