Manly not giving up on NRL finals: Stewart

Brett Stewart says Manly have the fighting qualities to play finals football despite sitting at the bottom of the NRL table and pressure mounting on coach Geoff Toovey.

The Sea Eagles got back in the winner’s circle with a 30-20 defeat of the Wests Tigers at Brookvale Oval on Friday night.

As is typical of him, Stewart went to another level in front of the Sea Eagles’ home fans with the Prince of Brookvale crossing for his eighth try in five games at the ground this year.

Despite gently releasing the pressure valve with their fourth win of the year, the side are battling to avoid their first ever wooden spoon.

During the week it was reported that chairman Scott Penn had told Toovey he would not be at the club next year.

Toovey has a strong record during his first three-and-a-half years at the helm, guiding the team to the finals on three occasions including the 2013 grand final and has recorded 54 wins, 39 losses and 1 draw.

However the Sea Eagles have built up a proud record over the last decade, making the finals the last 10 straight seasons and if they miss the top eight, there are sure to be consequences.

Stewart said while finals were not a talking point for the playing group, he would never rule out anything with the quality of their roster.

Asked if he had ever seen the club give up hope, Stewart said: “Not since I’ve been here.

“I’ve been here since 2003 and this club is definitely a fighting club … It’s a week by week proposition for us, obviously injuries haven’t helped us but we just need to focus on each week.

“We need to put in performances like tonight and who knows what can happen.”

Toovey would not be drawn on questions about his future after the game.

Outside the Brookvale Oval gates before kick-off, a group of fans were collecting signatures for a petition for Toovey to retain his job.

About half an hour before kick off they had collected 350 signatures from punters while just under 1300 had signed the petition on late on Friday night.

Kim Forrest, the organiser of the petition, described the push to oust Toovey as “un-Australian” and “un-Manly”.

“I just love Manly and I love Geoff Toovey,” she said.

“I’ve never met the man. But he’s done nothing wrong. If he had done something wrong then fair enough but he’s done nothing wrong.”

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