JACK-IN-THE-BOX Manly forward Anthony Watmough has been declared the hottest player of the 2007 semi-finals series and the man who can single-handedly swing Sunday night's grand final in the Sea Eagles' favour. While teammates Brett Stewart and Matt Orford have been touted as Test bolters, it is Watmough who expert observers argue holds the key to dismantling Melbourne, and statistics obtained by The Courier-Mail substantiate the claims. Watmough has played all but 11 minutes of the 25 games he has suited up for in 2007 and has come into his own in the finals series. Against both South Sydney and North Queensland - it has been a Watmough try that has broken open a finals deadlock - with the hyperactive forward rated a $13 chance to win the Clive Churchill Medal on Sunday night. "Watmough is the form player of the semi-finals, he's been fantastic for them," Gold Coast coach John Cartwright said. Manly legend Paul Vautin argues white-hot Watmough should be handed a maiden Test jumper in Wellington on October 14. "Anthony should be the first forward picked in the Australian side, the way he's been playing the last eight weeks," Vautin said. "He's been in outstanding form. He's been terrific, he really has, his running has been great and he's quick and powerful, a nuggety forward. He can play." Cartwright forecasts yet more grand final misery for 2006 bridesmaid Melbourne in the grand final. He believes Manly's scraping style, led by Watmough's engine room, can suffocate the jittery Storm in Telstra Stadium's unyielding pressure cooker. "I like Manly to win, the grand final-type of game will suit them, they never seem to win pretty, they just keep winning," Cartwright said. "Individually, they've got as many dangerous players as Melbourne. "The Storm probably deserve to be favourites but I just like the way Manly have come together at this time of year." Vautin senses the Storm has lost its edge over the past month and could be susceptible to the Sea Eagles surge. "Melbourne just aren't the same side they were four weeks ago, they look vulnerable, some of their passing is astray and they're dropping a few balls," Cartwright said.