From the Illawarra Mercury. BLOCKER: Why Manly will win Sept. 13, 2013, 3:03 a.m. Given everything I've seen this season and barring any further major injuries, Manly will win the competition. The Roosters were brilliant last week, the Rabbitohs have their best shot in years and September and the Storm go together. But I've got this feeling about the Sea Eagles. Forget the rest, they can't win the competition from there. No NRL side finishing five through eight has won the grand final since the concept was introduced in 2000. That says it all, really. Let's get back to Manly, though, and more specifically Brett Stewart. He's as fit as I've seen him for a long time. He's got his pace back and I reckon he's completely shed all those injury worries he's had throughout the season. I can't underestimate the importance of speed when it comes to the top fullbacks in the game. Those No 1s who can chime into the backline with speed can get on the outside of their man and draw that extra defender in. That's the key to creating the space and subsequent points. I think Manly almost have the best exponent of that in the competition in the form of Stewart. He's even more damaging than Billy Slater and Greg Inglis in some respects. The Sea Eagles have some incredible statistics about how they struggle when Stewart isn't in their side. Given he's back and healthy now, I think they can go on and win the title. The hardest challenge for them is actually making the grand final. Once they get there, winning will almost be the easy part. Can you imagine the psychological advantage they'll get if they beat the Roosters tomorrow night? It doesn't sound like much, but that extra day's rest they're going to get at this time of year is extremely important. Beat Penrith last Sunday and they would have played Souths tonight. That's a very short turnaround for this time of year. I know they were far from their best against the Panthers, but they'll bounce back for sure. I've got some real reservations about Melbourne defending their title. They've been dominant over the past decade with some of the best players we're likely ever to see, but they're all a year older now. I don't know whether they're as potent as they once used to be. I could be wrong. I don't think I'm wrong about the Bulldogs, though. History says they had to finish higher to be a threat in this year's finals. Besides that, they don't have the X-factor of the top four sides. Ben Barba took them to the grand final last year, but he's barely played this year. They've looked sluggish and I don't think you can turn it on like a light switch come finals time. Don't be surprised if Newcastle send them straight out the back door in week one. [hr] I'd agree with him if Brett Stewart plays.