Stick together and look after each other.
That is Manly coach Geoff Toovey’s message to his players ahead of Saturday night’s clash with NRL leaders Brisbane in Gosford following another week of major off-field distraction for the Sea Eagles.
Toovey, who was officially sacked by Manly this week, insisted his side was quietly confident of upsetting the high-flying Broncos in a must-win clash for the Sea Eagles who sit two wins outside the top eight.
With the coach told his services are no longer required next season and up to 14 players reportedly getting the same message, plenty would wonder about the Sea Eagles’ motivation levels for the remaining six rounds. But not Toovey.
“The Manly teams always fight against adversity. We are renowned for it and I’ve got no doubt this will spur us on and you’ll hopefully see our best football still ahead of us,” Toovey said.
The club legend was asked what he’d told his players in the lead up to the Broncos clash.
“Stick together and look after each other. The only thing we can deal with is what we do on the football field and they’re aware of that,” he said.
Manly produced an outstanding performance to dispatch the Warriors 32-12 last week, days after reports surfaced about the shaky futures of up to 14 Sea Eagles.
It galvanised them in New Zealand and will again this week, according to Toovey.
“We’re quietly confident that if we produce the goods, and we are capable of doing that, then we can win,” he said.
Manly have a great record at Gosford, winning 12 of 15 matches at Central Coast Stadium.
The Sea Eagles have also lost just one of 12 as the home team at the venue, while Brisbane are undefeated in Gosford from two games.
Brisbane centre Justin Hodges is in doubt for the game with a knee injury.
Coach Wayne Bennett has a minor issue in his meniscus and could miss out, with Dale Copely on stand by.
Bennett has also cleared co-captain Corey Parker to play despite copping a knee to his bicep in last week’s win over Gold Coast, which left a large bruise that has hindered his efforts at training this week.
The Broncos, who sit two points clear of North Queensland on the ladder, are chasing nine straight wins for the first time in a decade.
STATS THAT MATTER
– If Brisbane score over 30 points in this match it will be the first time since 2006 that they have scored 30+ points in three straight games.
– The Broncos 44-10 hammering of Manly in round 15 was their equal biggest winning margin over them and handed the Sea Eagles their biggest loss since 2005.
– Manly have 10 wins from their 14 meetings with Brisbane since 2007.