MANLY co-captain Jason King had to watch last year's grand final win from the grandstand after injury ended his season. So as you might imagine the big front-rower can't wait to get on the field on Friday night and do everything in his power to try and help the Sea Eagles become the first team to win back-to-back titles since Brisbane in 1997-98.
Asked yesterday if missing the grand final was like having his heart torn out, King said: "Yeah, it was very disappointing not to be part of it.
"(But) the boys and the club were fantastic about it. It is a team sport. It still felt very special to be a part of it and achieve what we did last year as a squad.
"But obviously I would love to be out there playing.
"I try not to dwell on it too much. I am aware of what happened last year and obviously there was a lot of disappointment around that."
Right now, King's focus is on trying to stop the minor premiership-winning Bulldogs juggernaut and end the campaign of the same man who guided Manly to glory last year.
Asked if he was surprised at the instant success Hasler has had at Belmore this year, King said: "Not really surprised. He is a good coach and he put some good systems in place at Manly while he was there. And he has obviously done the same thing out there at the Bulldogs.
"So it is not really that surprising. He is a good coach and he has got a good network of people around him."
But King said what both teams have already been able to achieve so far this year will mean nothing if they don't lift in the finals.
"Just everything involved in the game goes to that next level," he said of the finals.
"Starting with media coverage, the conversation you have with fans during the week ... everything takes a step up.
"There is just so much more importance on every minute of the game. A lot of the time in semi-final football it is possibly your last game of the season, so there is a lot of desperation.
"I know the situation is not that for us this week but there will still be a lot of desperation there to put yourself in a good spot for the rest of the finals series."
After a slow start to the season interrupted by injuries and suspensions, Manly finished the regular season in fourth spot and will go into the finals series now as premiership favourites.
Most experts agree their experience combined with an outstanding roster clearly makes them the team to beat and asked yesterday what had been the motivation behind their outstanding fightback, King said: "There is a desire to be successful again."
"Having such a tremendous season last year and having a taste of those type of experiences that you share with your teammates and the club, your supporters and your family, that is something that is very special and I think that is the burning desire.
"I think that is where our motivation is, just to be successful as a group. You work so hard together throughout the year and to translate it to the semi-finals is very important and something we are very focused on."