DYNAMIC Manly hooker Matt Ballin believes Friday night’s clash with the Wests Tigers couldn’t have come at a better time.
Tim Sheens’ men, despite a 50 per cent record in 2011, appear to have hit their straps in recent weeks.
Dynamic Sea Eagle Matt Balin
Currently sitting seventh, many believe they are more than capable of challenging for the NRL premiership.
Ballin, whose tussle with opposing rake Robbie Farah has fans salivating, described the Tigers as a “very dangerous” outfit.
“They are a good side, the past couple of weeks they have shown what they are capable of,” he said.
“Blokes like Benji Marshall and Robert Lui are difficult to stop when they get a roll on, and their forward pack have been impressive recently.
“Their completion rate (against the Roosters) last week was around 90 per cent, anytime you achieve those stats you are doing something right.
“They have strike power all over the park, we will need to be very good defensively and control the ball when we are on the attack.”
Ballin is also looking forward to playing on a slick surface at Gosford.
“Every time we play up there the boys love it,” he said.
“The atmosphere is great, the crowd really get into it.
“We are all about building at this stage of the year, and they (Tigers) will be desperate to continue their recent run, we can’t wait.”
Brent Kite is equally excited about playing in front of a full house.
“The past few years we have had some good battles with them,” the prop said.
“We will be up for it, and so will they.
“At this stage of the season all teams are generally on song with the stakes so high.
“Penrith last week asked plenty of questions, it was a great defensive effort.
“We were solid for 80 minutes last week and will look to keep things going.”
Despite both camps down playing any talk of animosity, the on-field rivalry between the two teams is fierce.
It will be the first time the teams have played this season.
Travelling fans are reminded that NRL passes will only be accepted until 6.30pm at the gate.
Friday night will also give Glenn Stewart and Anthony Watmough the chance to show Tim Sheens why they must be in his Kangaroos squad at seasons end.
Manly have an excellent record at the Central Coast venue, losing once in seven outings.