Stewart aiming to return against Sharks

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.

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