Stewart can rebuild Fortress Brookie - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Stewart can rebuild Fortress Brookie

Joe Barton And Ben Horne 26/03/2011 03:44:40 PM Comments (0)

The walls have looked a little shaky for the past two seasons, but Manly are confident Brett Stewart will be the key to making Brookvale the fortress of old for the Sea Eagles.

On Sunday, Stewart, who boasts the remarkable record of 52 tries from 55 games at the venerable old venue, will line up against Newcastle for his first NRL home game since September 2009.

The Prince of Brookvale's return from a second serious knee injury should help halt a worrying trend which has seen the Sea Eagles' attack slip from one of the best in the NRL at home, to a mediocre one.

In 2008, Stewart's last uninterrupted season, the former NSW fullback crossed eight times at Brookvale as Sea Eagles averaged 5.6 tries per match at home.

This figure dropped to 4.5 in 2009, following Stewart's first knee injury, with the 26-year-old scoring four tries in his two home games, and fell to 4.2 last season.

Newcastle hooker Matt Hilder believes shutting Stewart down is the key to dulling Manly's try-scoring potential.

"He's one of their favourite sons isn't he and he's got a pretty good strike rate down there for scoring tries but we've spoken about it ... he's going to try and get pretty involved so we'll try and nullify him pretty quickly and properly," Hilder told AAP.

Manly co-captain Jason King wants teams to be intimidated when they head to Brookvale, as opposed to last season when the Sea Eagles lost half their games at home.

"It is very important to us and our season, we have talked about making Brookie a fortress again, last year we had a few losses there, not something you like to do in front of your home crowd," he explained.

Newcastle have not visited Brookvale since 2006, but Hilder said the playing group is well aware of the trials visiting teams face - not least of all the vocal local support from the hill.

"I have only played there maybe two or three times so I haven't played there for three or four years ... but it's a good local ground, you get your blokes on the hill, they're pretty close to the action," Hilder explained.

"I reckon it's a pretty good place for an away team to go, sometimes you go to the bigger stadiums you don't get that atmosphere but down there it's like back in the old days, it's good.

"The trick is (to embrace the hostility) and we'll definitely try to."

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