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Manly 'nowhere near' best: Orford

By Todd Balym 04/03/2009 10:20:53 AM Comments (0)

"We are nowhere near our best."

A simple comment by Manly skipper Matt Orford struck fear into the NRL and Sea Eagles coach Des Hasler.

While the 15 other NRL clubs are no doubt aware of the Manly threat, Hasler no longer has the luxury of "flying under the radar".

Last year's 40-0 grand final shellacking of Melbourne and last week's 28-20 demolition of Leeds to become World Club champions has put the target squarely on the Eagles' back.

While Hasler cannot fault the motivation among his men, he knows they can no longer escape the burdens of expectation and pressure.

"I'm sure there are 15 other clubs baying for our blood," said Hasler upon arrival to Sydney on Wednesday.

"Now we are World Club challenge champions I was pretty proud with the way the players recognised that but about an hour after the game they were already switching on to 2009.

"I think there's a long way to go but our roster is a good roster ... With injuries and the rep season we have got to get through we have to arrive healthy at the end of the season."

Orford said the Sea Eagles' win over Leeds proved there would be no premiership hangover and they were seeking back-to-back glory in 2009.

Another scary thought is that Test prop and Clive Churchill medallist Brent Kite is still to be added to the team when the NRL season starts next week.

"There's plenty of motivation there and I think we showed that," said Orford.

"We are the benchmark now and other teams will really want to take it to us.

"We are nowhere near our best. There's still parts of our game that need working on."

Man of the match Anthony Watmough said he was ready to accept Orford's challenge to become a consistent gamebreaker for Manly.

Watmough scored twice in the WCC final and is determined to improve on his standout 2008 season when he won Test selection.

"That is probably (the form) where I have wanted to be the last couple of years," said Watmough.

"That is the level I should be playing at.

"I'm experienced enough now to play like that week in week out."

Meanwhile club chairman Scott Penn is hopeful to a swift resolution in the power struggles among the board and feud with co-owner Max Delmege.

The warring parties have provided a bitter backdrop to Manly's on field glory and Penn hopes the end is near.

"There's a few issues to sort out and common sense will prevail," said Penn.

"It needs to be fixed, but can it be repaired? It's a matter for the willingness of all parties."

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