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Watmough joins Manly's seniors club

08/09/2009 07:41:34 PM Comments (0)

Maturing Manly forward Anthony Watmough's arrival as a representative force in 2009 has him ready to prove he has earned the right to be called "senior player" at the NRL premiers as they begin their finals campaign.

The in-form back-rower, who played the second and third State of Origin games for NSW this year, has emerged from a tumultuous start to 2009 as one of the Sea Eagles' leaders, a reputation he hopes to enhance when his side meets Melbourne at Etihad Stadium on Friday night.

Putting behind him a bad-boy reputation off the field, which culminated in a stoush with a club sponsor at the Sea Eagles' infamous season launch, the 26-year-old says the play-offs are a chance to make a mark.

"Definitely, everyone loves playing finals footy and it's no secret that you've really got to play your best and if you don't you get found out," Watmough told reporters on Tuesday.

A near certainty for the Kangaroos' Four Nations squad next month, the free-running forward says his representative return has taught him more about finals football.

"It's just that type of footy, it's sort of Origin footy where you've just got to hold the ball and do the little things that no one likes to do," Watmough said.

"No team wants to give up, especially this time of the year and you've just got to give 110 per cent for 80 minutes and stay in the grind."

Sea Eagles coach Des Hasler said Watmough's game had matured since his return from the Origin campaign.

"Choc's a seasoned first-grader now and on top of that he's had great exposure and he's reaped the experience of rep football, (which) just adds to that," Hasler said.

"I think it's shown in his game."

Diplomacy seems to be one part of the new Watmough and he refused to fuel the wrestling debate again surrounding the Storm after second-rower Adam Blair was charged by the NRL match review committee for a "crusher" tackle in the final round of the regular season.

Blair will face the judiciary on Wednesday night.

"There's systems in place to take care of that, I'll just stay away from that one as much as I can," Watmough said.

"(Blair's) an unbelievable player, he does a really good job for New Zealand and he's been pretty much one of (Melbourne's) best all year, so if he's not there it's a bonus for us but we'll prepare the same as if he's there and take it from there."

Meanwhile, Manly strike weapon Jamie Lyon was not named in the side to play the Storm, but Hasler said he would be given until later in the week to prove he has recovered from a shoulder injury.

"He's not too bad, progressing," Hasler said.

"He's just got to get through some fitness work and we'll assess it later in the week, but we'll give him every chance."

Lyon would be likely to slot in for Kieran Foran at five-eighth, but Hasler backed his young No.6 to handle finals football in the grand final rematch.

"I can't see why not, he was outstanding last week," Hasler said.

Injured forwards Jason King (ribs) and Shane Rodney (thumb) will not be available for week one of the finals.

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