I think I have read it all, but this gem from the Front Page of the SMH: The saps Manly are pinning their hopes on It looks unpleasant, tastes foul and is made from the bark of the French pine. But a glass of this gluggy liquid could be the secret to Manly's rugby league success, and a place in the finals. The Sea Eagles finished 13th in the NRL last year but became the comeback kings after winning nine of their first 12 games this year. Then all of a sudden they started losing, slipping from the top of the ladder to eighth. Part of the reason, the team's physiologist, Steve Dank, believes, is a herbal anti-inflammatory treatment called Lact-Away. The exotic drink, which started as a treatment for racehorses and costs more than $300 a litre, promises to prevent muscle fatigue by helping reduce lactic acid build-up. Dank put the team on the supplement at the start of the season, with most players drinking it about four hours before matches and in smaller doses during the week. Then he took them off it. "The players said they did notice a difference when they weren't on it," he said. "You've just got to look at our second halves in the first 12 weeks. No side could touch us in the second half." In four of the nine victories, Manly trailed at half-time. Although Manly are the only team in the NRL to use Lact-Away, the drink, which is approved by the Australian Sports Drug Agency, is popular in other sports. The AFL's Brisbane Lions use it, as does the boxer Kostya Tszyu. The rights for Lact-Away are held by Sydneysiders Roger Davies and Vic Davidson, and they plan to sell the drink to the Chinese Sports Ministry. Dank said the secret of the drink's restorative powers was its main ingredient, pycnogenol, which is found in tree bark and is also used to treat diabetes. Another champion of the drink, the former Sydney Swan Troy Luff, said: "During games these days I still run out of puff in the lungs, but not in the legs. "I've spoken to Aker [Brisbane Lion Jason Akermanis] about it, and he says he doesn't want to play without it again. I spoke to [Brisbane Lion] Michael Voss, who's had his injury problems, and he loves it." Port Adelaide have also tried the drink but are less enthusiastic about it. "We won the premiership last year without using it, but we're using it this year and not winning," said their fitness manager, Darren Burgess. "But it does seem good for recovery." The NRL's chief medical officer, Hugh Hazard, said while he had not heard of the product, the league would be "interested in reading any scientific papers about it". Manly are now back on the supplement, in the hope it will give them the necessary edge for a place in the finals. One thing is for sure - any victory won't taste sweet. Their star forward Steve Menzies said: "It's pretty filthy stuff to take, for its taste and consistency, which is a bit like rhubarb stew. "But it's pretty good with what it does to you. It helps with endurance."