Manly are bracing for a Glenn Stewart with a point to prove when they meet South Sydney on Friday in their NRL clash at ANZ Stadium.
After being cut free by the Sea Eagles at the end of last year, Stewart is racing the clock to beat a hand injury to face the club he helped steer to two premierships.
Souths coach Michael Maguire has been coy about Stewart’s chances of making a return against his former club, but Manly privately believe the former Kangaroo will take the field.
It is the first meeting between the two sides since Stewart’s departure from Brookvale.
He wasn’t even offered a chance to continue his 12-year career on the northern beaches with the club declining to offer him any sort of contract renewal.
Manly coach Geoff Toovey is aware Stewart will carry extra motivation into the clash.
“It would add a bit of spice to the match, he is a great player and I’m sure he will be wanting to get back on the field for this match,” Toovey said on Thursday.
“He has had a fairly significant injury over the last month or so and I’m sure he is chomping at the bit to get on the field.
“We were all disappointed that Glenn had to leave the club – there is no denying that. I was very disappointed for him as well and the club. But that is rugby league these days and I’m sure he will be out there putting his best on like he does every week.”
Stewart has been out since late April with a torn thumb tendon.
It would be the first time he played a NRL game against his brother, Sea Eagles fullback Brett.
Another clash of sibling rivalry awaits with Rabbitohs forwards George and Tom Burgess coming up against brother Luke, following his move from Redfern to Brookvale for this season.
“That should be a good contest, too,” Toovey said.
“Luke has been a bit quiet this week but I think that is a good thing. He has his focus on making sure his younger brothers don’t teach him a lesson and he gets the upper hand.”
Bottom-of-the table Manly come into the match buoyed by a last-start 30-20 win over the Wests Tigers. The Rabbitohs enjoyed the bye last weekend on the back of their 34-6 hammering by the Tigers the week before, their biggest loss under coach Maguire.
* The Rabbitohs have won four of their past six meetings with Manly, including two big wins in their two most-recent meetings
* The biggest reason for the demise of Manly this season seems to be their failing attack, ranking last or next to last in almost every category. They score the equal fewest points (15.5 per game), tries (2.8 per game) and line breaks (3.6 per game) and are busting the fewest tackles by far of any team (18.7 per game)
* Manly are also losing the battle in the middle, averaging the least metres of any team this season and conceding the fourth most
Courtesy Fox Sports Stats