Sea Eagles facing finals litmus test

Manly aren’t getting carried away despite working their way into NRL semi-final contention.

After winning three of their last four and with big guns Brett Stewart, Kieran Foran and Daly Cherry-Evans firing, Manly have given themselves a sliver of a chance as they sit just two wins outside the eight.

But the Sea Eagles will need to win at least six of their last eight and the task is made all the more difficult as they prepare to face four of the competition’s top five teams over the next month.

They start with second-placed North Queensland on Monday before facing a tough road trip to Auckland to take on the Warriors. This will be followed by outings against ladder-leaders Brisbane and premiers South Sydney.

Toovey said he wasn’t buying into the buzz about his team and predicted Monday’s clash with the Cowboys would be a true litmus test.

“The competition is so close this year, there’s only four points between 12th and sixth,” he said.

“It’s a competition that anyone can win but the problem for us at the moment is making sure we can get into the top eight to be there come semi-final time … We’re not getting carried away, the big test is this Monday.

“Hopefully the result goes our way compared to (Manly’s last meeting with the Cowboys in round 12) when we probably should have won but didn’t get the money.”

On Thursday night Cowboys playmaker Johnathan Thurston was named one of the seven greatest halfbacks of the television era by the Men of League Foundation.

Toovey, himself one of the best halfbacks of his generation, described Thurston as one of the greatest of all time and someone they would have to mark heavily on Monday night.

“I don’t like ranking players from era to era, it’s such a different game from a decade ago let alone two or three decades ago,” Toovey said. “He’s a quality half, the No.1 half in this period.

“He’s probably the No.1 half by a long shot. He’s a quality half and I’m sure he’ll go down in history as one of the greatest.”

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