Self belief the key with Manly: Orford - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Self belief the key with Manly: Orford

By Steve Jancetic 25/09/2008 05:56:23 PM Comments (0)

The core remains the same but Manly skipper Matt Orford believes subtle mental adjustments have the Sea Eagles poised to go one better in this year's NRL finals series.

The 2007 grand finalists head into Saturday night's preliminary final against the New Zealand Warriors odds-on favourites to progress to the big one for the second year in a row, an expectation Orford said his side was more than comfortable with.

Of last year's vanquished grand final squad, only Chris Hicks and Michael Monaghan have gone and it is the mental toughness garnered by the 34-8 hiding at the hands of the Storm which has Orford claiming the Sea Eagles are in better mental shape this season.

"Just the self belief I think, guys are a little bit more experienced about what finals football is all about," Orford said when asked about the main differences between the 2007 squad and this year's version.

"They know that you can't get too carried away and caught up in the hype of the game, just to stick to your guns and stick to your systems in place and the game-plan most importantly.

"If things don't go to plan then you've got to get back to basics and that's what finals football is all about."

Sticking with the basics is up there with flying under the radar in Manly's little black book of catchphrases.

The Sea Eagles have built their success this season on a conservative style of game which relies on wearing down the opposition.

It's the sort of game that could be brought undone by the ad-lib Warriors, who don't mind giving the ball some air inside their own half.

Despite their raging favouritism, Orford hasn't afforded himself the opportunity to look ahead to a potential grand final re-match with Melbourne, or even a battle of the beaches against coastal rivals Cronulla.

The Storm juggernaut - which Manly has failed to beat in its last three attempts - has been brought to its knees this week with skipper Cameron Smith suspended for the remainder of the finals series.

It comes on top of Jeremy Smith's one game suspension and a season-ending ankle injury to Test backrower Ryan Hoffman.

But Orford refuses to dream - at least publicly - about feasting on the wounded champion.

"It's all about us and what we can control, it's all about us against the Warriors," Orford said.

"That's a big enough task in itself without worrying about all the stuff happening outside our game.

"The Warriors are really high at the moment, they've got a lot of momentum and motivation with Ruben (Wiki) leaving at the end of the year and retiring ... it's definitely right up there with one of our toughest challenges."

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