Beware the wounded Sea Eagles – that’s the message from the leading contenders to Manly’s NRL crown.
Both Canterbury coach Des Hasler and Melbourne captain Cameron Smith say despite being hit hard by injury and suspension Manly remain more than capable of winning back-to-back premierships.
Canterbury and Melbourne enjoy week two of the finals off and are just one win away from the 2013 decider. And the leading figures at each club believe those dismissing Manly’s premiership credentials after last week’s qualifying loss to the Bulldogs are well off the mark.
Manly’s 2012 premiership winning mentor Hasler said the club has traditionally managed its best performances under adversity.
“Don’t write Manly off, there are too many people out there saying that,” Hasler told Sky Radio’s The Big Sports Breakfast.
“The Cowboys would be very, very nervous about that … the Cowboys coming off that game against Brisbane they didn’t control. Manly coming off a dour, tight struggle from last Friday, that is when they are at their most dangerous.”
Smith’s Storm side will host their two-time grand final foes Manly in a preliminary final in Melbourne next week if the premiers can defeat North Queensland in Friday night’s semi-final. The Australian captain said a Sea Eagles win would not surprise.
“The talk of the town at the moment is the Cowboys but you just can’t write off the Sea Eagles,” Smith said.
They are a good football side and they know how to win at this time of the year. They had a tough one last week against the minor premiers, they played really well the Dogs.
“Maybe injury and suspension might hurt the Manly side but I don’t think they are going to lie down and say it’s going to be tough because of injury and suspension, they will come out and throw everything at the Cowboys.”