Coming Dragons NRL game not on Manly radar - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Coming Dragons NRL game not on Manly radar

David Beniuk 19/06/2011 06:03:46 PM Comments (0)

On the eve of Monday night's NRL clash with Parramatta, a mouthwatering game against St George Illawarra was the furthest thing from the minds of Manly's players, according to coach Des Hasler.

The Sea Eagles can jump the Dragons to the top of the premiership ladder with a win over arch rivals Parramatta at Brookvale Oval, joining Melbourne after the Storm's 12-4 defeat of Wests Tigers on Sunday at Leichhardt.

The Dragons' State of Origin-induced mini-slump, including Friday night's 21-14 loss to Brisbane, means Manly can also leapfrog the Storm if they beat the Eels by 12 or more.

"By no means are we thinking about St George. We're thinking about Parramatta," Hasler said.

"Let's pay respect to them - they played really well against St George for 90 minutes (in the 14-14 draw in round 13)."

Sitting top of the table would be a major achievement for a side few rated as the 2011 season began and have become outright second favourite for the title.

Hasler, though, had always preferred his sides to be out of the spotlight, something hard to avoid when on or near the top of the table.

"We're just trying to compete with the benchmark sides," he said.

"No doubt, St George and Melbourne are clearly dominating what's out there at the moment."

"We have plenty of young players who are still learning the game and getting to grips with it all, so we just have to keep working and keep trying and keep doing what we're doing."

Manly will shoot for six straight wins against the Eels, whose last outing was the fighting draw with the Dragons.

The Sea Eagles will be without NSW centre Will Hopoate, sidelined for at least six weeks after being injured in State of Origin II, but Blues backrower Anthony Watmough is set to back up.

Parramatta have fullback Jarryd Hayne and prop Tim Mannah backing up, but most intrigue surrounds former Test forward Reni Maitua, who could play his first NRL game since completing a two-year drug ban.

Reports suggest the former Canterbury and Cronulla utility will be rushed into Parramatta's side, while coach Stephen Kearney has confirmed Maitua will travel to Brookvale.

Manly's players will wear black armbands and a minute's silence will be observed in memory of former Sea Eagle, dual international and commentator, Rex Mossop, who died on Friday.

Mossop played 129 games, including two grand finals, for his beloved Manly before embarking on a 27-year media career.

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