THE Sea Eagles face a gruelling road trip of nearly 10,000km over the next fortnight as they strive to grab a top-four spot for the NRL finals series.
The resolve of the defending premiers will really be put to the test by the tough schedule which follows last Friday night's 20-12 loss to the Bulldogs in the big grudge match of the season at Brookvale Oval.
Tomorrow the frequent-flying squad makes the 3301km trip to Perth ahead of their grand final rematch against the New Zealand Warriors on Saturday evening at Patersons Stadium (5.30pm Sydney time).
They then return home before flying another 1683km to Townsville to take on Johnathan Thurston and his North Queensland Cowboys the following week at Dairy Farmers Stadium on Saturday week.
But former Sea Eagles star turned commentator John Gibbs is confident the team will handle what has been thrown at them.
"Manly has had a really tough season," said Gibbs, co-host of 2UE's Sports Today program.
"They started with a tough schedule in terms of travel - remember they had to go to England for the World Club Challenge and then had to go to Auckland to play the Warriors."
The former Kangaroo halfback said the team came through that OK although a few injuries and suspensions along the way have not helped.
"The bottom line is that they just have to deal with it and I believe they will.
"They are just inside the eight and now they just have to concentrate on winning games.
"I am sympathetic to what they are facing but their attitude just has to be good so they don't think about that sort of stuff."
Gibbs said with six games to go the Sea Eagles can still make the top four and results on the weekend went their way.
"They are capable of beating any side on their day, they will do fine."
And he said the return of fullback Brett Stewart will really boost the side's attacking weaponry.
He said after Stewart limped off the field after scoring his second try against Parramatta, they have hardly scored a try since.
"When he plays it gives everyone confidence," Gibbs said.
24 Jul 12 @ 12:38am by Jon Geddes