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Alternate Preview: Adversity breeds character

Dan

Kim Jong Dan
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By Matabele 6th May 2005
AlternateEagles.com

There's been a lot of high sounding nonsense written over the last two
months about the resurgence of Manly and the new steel in the side. All of
that will be as blaring brass and clashing cymbal in coming weeks should we
start to see Manly succumb to the kind of weak capitulations that have been
the hallmark of the past three seasons.



There is no doubt that last week's flogging at the hands of the Broncos and
the injuries that came out of it are large setbacks to our ambitions.
However there should be no reason for these to be used as an excuse and
allow the team to stumble their way through the next few weeks bleating
about bad luck and waiting for players to return to the fold.



The reality is that the true mettle of a side is found when it faces
adversity and responds to it. If there really is steel in the side, as has
been widely proclaimed, the only option is for the players on the paddock to
dig deep and find the extra effort required to cover the losses in
personnel.



Let's have a look at some of the problems that have struck the side.
Firstly, in some ways we are victims of our success. We have three players
involved in the City Origin side on Friday night who will need to back up in
less than 48 hours. Worse is that all three players are integral parts of
our forward pack and will surely be feeling the bruises and bumps of what
should be a torrid thumping from the Country side. So already we have half
of our forward pack at significantly less than 100% going into Sunday's
game.



This scenario is further aggravated by injury and suspension to a further
three players. Brent Kite has been our best forward this year but will miss
the game with a shoulder injury. Heckenberg is gone for four weeks and we
will surely miss him as he has been our hardest working forward over the
past eighteen months, often leading both the hit-ups and tackle counts. We
also have hit man Kylie Leuluai missing for two weeks after a high shot last
week.



So how will these problems be addressed? Losing three props would hurt any
side. However, I have a gut feeling that Bryant is going to be something of
a surprise packet and will not let us down. Sam Harris has lifted his game
in recent weeks and will hopefully take the opportunity of more game time to
show off his ability to take the ball up hard and pop the odd pass in
traffic. This time last year he was donning a City jumper. Surely his
exclusion this year will provide enough motivation to extract a big game.
It is essential that King backs up and contributes more than he has in
recent weeks.



Williamson will move back into the second row and will need to play a lot of
minutes and get through a lot of work seeing as Watmough and Menzies will
already be fatigued from the City game. This opens the door for Randall to
come back and press for a more permanent presence in the side. Randall has
been extremely disappointing since his stand-out 2003 season and he needs to
increase his commitment at the tackle and find some focus and concentration
with ball in hand.



Kennedy will need to be heavily involved, not only on the field but also by
generating talk prior to and during the game. The lack of communication in
the side in the first half last week against Brisbane was notable and we
paid a high price for it. Kennedy will need to make sure that heads are
screwed on as players take the field and that the talk, especially in
defence, happens throughout the game.



Our success this year has been built up front through dominant performances
by our pack. However, last week the forwards were thrown around like rag
dolls and the word 'decimated' could be applied to our stocks this week when
injuries and fatigue are taken into account. They will need to dig deep if
we are to win.



There is no doubt that the Tigers have the advantage in the halves and their
backline. In fact I'd contend that Manly fields the weakest combination of
numbers 2-5 in the NRL. Therefore it is essential that our forwards shake
off any complacency and the horrors of the past week and lay a disciplined,
no mistakes platform for the side.



If the planets align, our players play their hearts out and our three rep
players back up and contribute some significant game time we can squeak home
and win by two. If we take the field with heads bowed then Fortress
Brookvale will crumble with the Tigers winning by twenty. A big crowd is
essential to inspire our players as well as a lop-sided penalty count our
way from the referee.



Key match-ups:



King versus Skandalis: Both players are in the City side and will be
backing up. Skandalis gives 100% every time he plays whilst King has been
ordinary in recent weeks in terms of involvement and effort. King needs to
extract every ounce of his remaining energy and make 150 metres plus if
we're to have a chance in this game.



Moanaghan versus Prince: Prince is pressing for a Queensland State of
Origin berth whilst Moanaghan has been given a reality check in the form of
his snubbing for the Country side. Both players provide the attacking spark
for their sides and will be hoping for big games and a few more notches in
the try assists column.
 

The Wheel

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Couldn't agree more, I hope we get away with this game but :blah: :blah: :blah:
 

Matabele

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Summary - losing 4 props is a bugger but this is the sort of game you need to win if you want to be considered a contender.

Look for a big game from Bryant.
 

Dan

Kim Jong Dan
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so are we now a contender?
 

Dan

Kim Jong Dan
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But I thought you and a few other were touting this as THE TRUE TEST!
 

Volley

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No, the game against the Dogs is the "true test".
 

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