Manly expect tough first test - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Manly expect tough first test

By Valkerie Mangnall 21/02/2009 12:41:29 PM Comments (0)

Manly expect a stern test of their World Club Challenge (WCC) preparations when they meet London Super League team Harlequins on Sunday.

The match, at Twickenham's Stoop Stadium, is a warm-up for the March 1 contest between the NRL premiers and Super League and defending WCC champions Leeds Rhinos at Elland Road.

Manly captain Matt Orford expected his players to be a little rusty against a side that has already started their season.

"Harlequins are going to be a very good measure for us," Orford told AAP.

"We've seen some tapes and they're a big team.

"They've got a few former Manly boys their team - Luke Williamson and Chad Randall. We caught up with them this week. They're looking forward to it."

Not only do Manly have to contend with a team starting to hit their rhythm on home soil, they have also been struck down by a stomach bug.

Prop George Rose, utility Shane Rodney and back row Glenn Stewart missed training during the week with a virus.

But a team spokesman said the entire 23-man squad is expected to play against Quins, where coach Des Hasler would trial a younger side in the first half and a near full-strength team after the break.

"Everyone will get a run," the spokesman said.

"We've had a bit of trouble with a virus, but everybody's ok ... the doctor has arrived and he traced it back to the plane trip.

"The guys were all in the same group on the plane, in the same row."

Harlequins head coach Brian McDermott announced he would use at least 20 players.

"Facing a team you know less about can actually be helpful," McDermott said.

"We'll be focused on what we can do and control, rather than what we think we know about Manly.

"Saying that, we have seen some videos and you'd struggle not to have seen their incredible run the last few seasons. But we'll be concentrating most on our game, not theirs.

"This match is a great opportunity for us to play against one of the best sides in the world."

The conditions - often been blamed for Australia's poor WCC record of just two wins since 2000 - should not be a factor.

Sea Eagles fullback Brett Stewart and his team-mates were pleasantly surprised by the weather that has greeted them this past week, and London's recent mild temperatures were forecast to continue.

"I was speaking to Chad Randall last week and he said it was covered over in snow here ... but it's pretty pleasant at the moment," Stewart said.

Temperatures may turn colder when the team head north to face Leeds, but Stewart said Manly were focused on their bid to become the first NRL side since the Sydney Roosters in 2003 to win the WCC.

In doing so, they would deny the Rhinos back-to-back titles.

"We're taking it pretty serious," Stewart said.

"That's probably the first thing Des spoke to us about in the pre-season, it's the first hurdle of the year."

The Harlequins match kicks off at 3pm on Sunday (0200 Monday AEDT).

Both teams will wear black armbands and a minute's silence will be observed for victims of the Victorian bushfires.

Brought to you by AAP AAP © 2021 AAP

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