THE all important stage three of the four-part NRL premiership starts in earnest for the Sea Eagles against arch rivals Parramatta tomorrow at Brookvale Oval.
Manly have always divided the premiership into four sections each season - the all-important starting six weeks, the Origin player drain period, the run to the finals and the critical finals series.
With five players for the Blues in the Origin series Geoff Toovey's side have a chance tomorrow to finish the eight-week Origin block with 12 points from a possible 16 and the coaching staff would be more than pleased with where the side sits.
But starting with the Eels, the Sea Eagles now have to dispose of bottom-of-the-ladder teams like Parramatta comfortably.
Manly's run into the finals is tough and fans should note they will be on us after just another four games at home.
Two of the games are blockbusters against highly ranked sides the maroon and whites have already beaten this season - the Bulldogs and the Broncos.
Coach Geoff Toovey and the coaching and training team have perfected the timing needed to win another premiership.
In Manly's two recent title wins the side has peaked on grand final day but built momentum two to three weeks out from the finals.
It is almost impossible to win more than seven or eight games in succession and then go unbeaten for three games in the finals.
In the modern era, Manly usually taper off around round 23 and then start their run two or three weeks out from the finals.
Brisbane make a trip to Brookie in round 25.
Mark it down as a vital game in the premiership defence for Manly.
WHOLE NEW BALL GAME
POPULAR former Sea Eagles marketing boss Kieran Houlahan has landed a dream sporting job in the US.
Houlahan, who made many friends among sponsors in his seven years in sales and marketing at the Sea Eagles, is now working in ticketing and sales with the Minnesota Twins baseball franchise.
Ticket sales for the season are $88 million, a far cry from what is collected in a session at his former sporting workplace at Brookvale Oval.
VIC'S ENGLISH OFFER
MANLY'S grand final premiership-winning forward Vic Mauro has had an offer to play in the English Super League next season.
Mauro is under contract for next season but will look at extending his career by checking out the English offer, which gives him the choice of several interested clubs.
"I am a Sea Eagles junior and wouldn't want to leave but if I can secure a few seasons in England I would look at the offer," Mauro said.
Mauro was a popular figure along with Roosters duo Anthony Minichiello and Aidan Guerra last week in the Riverina town of Griffith.
Mauro is pictured above with Aidan Guerra and Anthony Minichiello in Griffith as part of a sponsorship-seeking mission in the Riverina wine producing centre.
The trio have committed to playing for a strong Italian side in next year's rugby league World Cup in England and Wales.
``Mini'' will captain Italy after playing one more season in his great career with his beloved Roosters.