Favourite tag doesn't faze Manly: Hasler - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Favourite tag doesn't faze Manly: Hasler

By David Beniuk 15/09/2008 07:14:50 PM Comments (0)

Manly coach Des Hasler says he's paying no heed to the "fickle" nature of NRL premiership favouritism.

Many bookmakers indicated on Sunday the Sea Eagles would assume favouritism for the title after Melbourne's shock loss to the New Zealand Warriors, although betting was largely suspended in the wake of sexual assault allegations involving Brisbane players.

Manly's 38-6 disposal of former bogey side St George Illawarra at Brookvale Oval on Saturday night only added to the Sea Eagles' gathering momentum.

Hasler has relished his side being the quiet achievers in the past two years and said he would be taking nothing from the favourites tag.

"No, nothing, not at all," he told AAP.

"They're too fickle. The week before no one wanted to know about anyone else (but Melbourne) so it's just speculation.

"That won't alter our cause one iota. All we do is concentrate on us and we know that we've got another game of football in about 11 days time, that's ours sole concentration."

Favouritism has partly come Manly's way because they are considered they have a softer run to the grand final than closest premiership rivals Melbourne and Brisbane.

The Sea Eagles will play the winners of Friday's semi-final between the New Zealand Warriors and Sydney Roosters, with neither of this week's combatants expecting to have to cross the Tasman before Sunday's boilover.

The Storm and Broncos face each other in a sudden death match-up at Suncorp Stadium with a fresh Cronulla awaiting the winner.

Hasler said he didn't have a preference for who his side would meet in week three of the finals, and was adamant there was no advantage on his side of the draw.

"Nothing's easy anymore, the competition's wide open," he said.

"There's no advantage. We have none at all. I'm not going to buy into things like that.

"I think the travel's the least of their worries.

"The Warriors and every side has got our utmost respect, it's about us making sure that our mindset and everything is right so we're not even looking down that road.

"We respect every side that walks on to the paddock against us simply. There's no advantage anywhere."

Manly, who have now won four straight matches, will use the week off to nurse their bumps and bruises, most notably to centre Steve Bell (calf) and prop Josh Perry (knee).

Bell underwent scans on a suspected tear while Perry's cork is not expected to keep him out of a preliminary final.

But utility Luke Williamson is unlikely to be ready as he continues his recovery from a hamstring injury.

Hasler said he would not approach the week off any differently to last year, despite the Sea Eagles' eventual grand final loss to Melbourne.

"I think if you asked most sides if they preferred to have the week off they'd probably say yep," he said.

"The games in the semi-finals have been very intense, they always are. You've always got bumps and bruises and it's about freshening up and just getting things right."

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