Manly’s star fullback Brett Stewart is confident of returning from injury against Cronulla on Monday night.
Desperate after two losses to start the NRL season, the Sea Eagles received a confidence boost on Wednesday when their star No.1 announced he was likely to take the field against the Sharks at Brookvale Oval.
The 31-year-old has been sidelined with a hamstring strain suffered in last month’s final trial against Queensland Cup side Ipswich.
“Fingers crossed I’ll be right for Monday, everything’s going to plan but I’ve got a fitness test on Friday and over the weekend, so I won’t be pushing it,” Stewart said.
“If it’s not ready, it’s not ready. It’s a long season, it’s only round three.”
Stewart, the club’s all-time leading try-scorer, was missed during their defeats to Canterbury and Wests Tigers but will provide much-needed direction and creativity should he return against the Sharks.
He said it was hard watching Manly’s disappointing start, after a pre-season in which they were heavily hyped after some astute recruiting.
“It’s been very frustrating,” Stewart said.
“It’s been a bloody good pre-season for me, along with a lot of us here. A lot of running and a lot of long-distance running which we haven’t had in a while.
“I was looking forward to round one but I didn’t want to push it and come back too early and miss another four to six weeks.”
He revealed he had suffered a minor setback a fortnight ago but was on track to get back on the paddock against the Sharks.
“Round one I was probably 50-50 and I probably rushed it back a little bit and just felt a little bit of a strain again and rested on Monday night,” Stewart said.