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Lyon backs Hopoate to stay on

Steve Jancetic 29/03/2011 07:49:39 PM Comments (0)

Manly skipper Jamie Lyon has backed young gun Will Hopoate to withstand the return of several key players and hold onto his place in the NRL club's first-choice squad.

Lyon was on Tuesday named to make a surprise comeback from a hamstring strain and will line up alongside Hopoate in the centres in Friday night's clash with South Sydney in Gosford.

After showing glimpses of what he could do when handed an NRL debut last year, the 18-year-old has returned three tries from as many games in 2011 with the Sea Eagles forced to make do over the opening few rounds of the season without several backline stars.

But with Kiwi international Steve Matai due back from suspension in round five and Tony Williams touch and go to play against the Rabbitohs, the squeeze is on for places in the Sea Eagles backline, with Lyon backing Hopoate to retain a berth.

"I'm pretty sure he's going to be thereabouts in the team - he's made it pretty hard for Des (coach Des Hasler) to drop him.

"He's definitely been one of our best the last couple of weeks and I think he's only going to get better.

"There's plenty of rivalry there for spots."

While trying to find a spot for players hasn't been much of a concern for Hasler in recent times, the Sea Eagles mentor said it was a problem he'd be happy with.

"They're the sort of headaches that coaches love to have," Hasler said.

While confident of returning against the Bunnies, Lyon said a final decision would be made after training later this week.

"It's been going pretty well, it's strengthened up quite nicely and hopefully I get through the next couple of days and I'm a chance to play," Lyon said of his hamstring.

"I'm pretty confident I should be right."

Former Test winger David Williams was named on Tuesday but remains in doubt due to an ankle injury suffered in Sunday's win over Newcastle.

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