South Sydney star Adam Reynolds has declared Manly “rightful” NRL finalists ahead of a crucial round 22 clash against the Sea Eagles at Brookvale Oval on Friday night.
After a slow start, Manly are rapidly building momentum with five weeks remaining of the regular season as they chase an 11th successive finals appearance.
Their 44-14 thrashing of premiership frontrunners Brisbane on Saturday has put the rest of the NRL competition on notice, with premiers Souths now in the crosshairs.
With proven big-game performers Jamie Lyon, Kieran Foran and Daly Cherry-Evans finding form, Reynolds conceded on Monday the Rabbitohs are wary of Manly.
“They are playing great footy, they (Foran and Cherry-Evans) are two world-class players, they are really pushing their claims to make the top eight,” Reynolds said.
“They are a good side, rightfully they should be in the eight, they have got a load of experience and a lot of talent on the field.
“It is going to be a challenge for us to turn up to Brookie with the right mentality to play good football.
“They have a lot to play for, and I’m sure they will be just as desperate as we are.”
Manly need to win their remaining five games to guarantee a finals berth while Souths have to keep winning to stay on track for a top-four spot.
Souths prop George Burgess won’t come up again against his brother Luke on Friday night, with the Manly forward to miss the rest of the season with a knee injury.
But Burgess said he expected to meet a motivated Manly side.
“They will be a very hungry team as they have showed in the past few weeks,” Burgess said.
“They have put some good performances together against high-quality teams. We have definitely got our work cut out.”