Sea Eagles wary of Thaiday factor - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Sea Eagles wary of Thaiday factor

By Joe Barton 20/09/2011 05:48:40 PM Comments (0)

Darren Lockyer may be hogging headlines but Manly are also wary of Sam Thaiday's return in Friday's NRL preliminary final.

The rugged and influential Test second-rower has not played since Brisbane's round 26 victory over Manly, missing two matches to suspension for a dangerous tackle on prop Brent Kite.

His return adds another dangerous element against a Manly pack missing key players Glenn Stewart (suspension), Jason King (pectoral injury) and Darcy Lussick (suspension).

"He's a big part of their team, he'll definitely be a big boost for them and he's definitely going to be a benefit to their team," admitted Manly co-captain Jamie Lyon on Tuesday.

"(But) We're confident in our pack."

Manly coach Des Hasler is preparing his side as if Lockyer will lead the Broncos in the Sydney Football Stadium clash despite having plates inserted in a fractured cheekbone three days ago.

"The Broncos are a very professional club, they know what they're doing and they will make the best decision - and so will Darren - for Darren and the football team," said Hasler.

"That's all that really needs to be said on it."

Hasler was asked whether the uncertainty surrounding Lockyer - including his potential for serious long-term injury if hit in the same spot - would cloud his players' approach to the match.

Already Brisbane coach Anthony Griffin has implored the two referees to keep a close eye on any plays involving Lockyer.

"It's really good journalism, it's a really good story, but when the players get out there they're just playing footy," Hasler said.

" ... He's an inspirational player for them.

"I'm sure they'd like to have him out there on the field but they've got to make the decision and I'm sure they'll make the right one."

Lyon said Lockyer would not get a free ride if he was able to take the field.

"No one does (deserve a free ride)," Lyon said.

"It's a tough game, it's a physical game and it's always been a strong sport."

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