Beaver sick ahead of preliminary final - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Beaver sick ahead of preliminary final

By Liam FitzGibbon 18/09/2007 06:35:49 PM Comments (0)

Manly have suffered a scare ahead of Saturday's grand final qualifier against North Queensland with veteran backrower Steve Menzies struck down by a virus.

The 33-year-old, try-scoring sensation is in doubt for the sudden-death preliminary final at the Sydney Football Stadium after missing Sea Eagles training.

Manly coach Des Hasler has named Menzies on a seven-man bench and also named backrower Glenn Stewart and winger Chris Hicks, who are also in doubt for the match with ankle injuries.

Menzies is believed to be "laying low" in quarantine with the virus but Hasler was confident he would recover in time to face the Cowboys.

"He'll be right," Hasler said.

"Obviously, if you're going to get a virus it's best to get it earlier in the week but he'll be okay."

Hasler rated Hicks and Stewart a better than 50-50 chance of playing and said he would delay a decision on their availability until "as late as possible."

Both were injured in the Sea Eagles' 30-6 qualifying final win over South Sydney.

"They're a work in progress so to speak, but we're hopeful they'll be right," Hasler said.

Hasler received a boost with prop Brent Kite returning to full training after missing the qualifying final with an adductor injury.

Interchange forward Glenn Hall also trained after recovering from a shoulder injury and will face a fitness test later this week.

Hasler has named a seven-man bench and will trim three when the injury situation becomes clearer.

The Cowboys have named Johnathan Thurston and Carl Webb to start the match despite question marks over whether they will play.

Thurston will front the NRL judiciary on Wednesday night in a bid to beat a dangerous tackle charge that would wipe him out of the match.

Webb is still in doubt after missing last Sunday's 49-12 semi-final win over the Warriors with a calf strain.

Premiership favourites Melbourne welcome back five-eighth Greg Inglis and front rower Ben Cross for Sunday's preliminary final against Parramatta after both overcame injuries.

Inglis missed the 40-0 qualifying final rout of Brisbane with a back complaint, while Cross was sidelined with a hamstring injury.

Storm coach Craig Bellamy has named an expanded six-man interchange bench for the clash with the Eels at Telstra Dome.

Eels coach Michael Hagan has named an unchanged starting line-up from the side that beat the Bulldogs 25-6 in last Saturday's semi-final.

Meanwhile the race to referee the grand final is still wide open after Shayne Hayne was dropped in favour of last year's whistle blower Paul Simpkins.

Simpkins will referee Manly v North Queensland while Tony Archer gets his second consecutive finals assignment in Melbourne v Parramatta.

Referees boss Robert Finch said the decision to drop Hayne was nothing to do with last week's performance in the Eels v Bulldogs match and added he was still in contention for the grand final.

"There's an opportunity for a number of blokes to do the grand final so we're seeing how they go," Finch said.

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