IT WAS once the most brutal and violent rivalry in rugby league - and it seems nothing has changed.
No love lost...Manly and Wests players brawl in 1981. Source: The Daily Telegraph
It's on...Wests Tigers and Manly players get involved during their round one clash this year. Source: The Daily Telegraph
The Daily Telegraph can reveal that Wests and Manly are ready for a throwback to the Silvertails v Fibros days of 30 years ago when they meet in Gosford on Sunday afternoon.
Manly have had the Wests Tigers match in their sights since a brawl between the two teams in round one in March.
Sea Eagles players have a genuine dislike for Wests Tigers forwards Bryce Gibbs and Liam Fulton and it is understood Manly's forwards have spoken this week about their desire to rip in on Sunday.
But both Gibbs and Fulton yesterday said they wouldn't back down if Manly started anything.
The Sea Eagles cannot forgive Gibbs for breaking the jaw of Kane Cleal, the son of Sea Eagles recruitment officer Noel, during the 2002 SG Ball grand final. Gibbs was suspended for six weeks over the incident.
Fast forward to the opening round match this year when the game erupted after Manly forward George Rose produced a swinging arm that collected Tiger Daniel Fitzhenry.
Gibbs and Robbie Farah charged in, a scuffle broke out and Gibbs threw a punch at Rose.
Throw in the Sea Eagles' anger at being tagged "powder puffs" in the media a fortnight ago and Sunday's game becomes potentially volatile.
The NRL has appointed experienced referee Shayne Hayne to make sure the game doesn't erupt.
"We have a disciplined side but we won't back away from anyone or any team if they start anything," Manly CEO Graham Lowe said.
After the fight in round one, Rose pointed at Gibbs and Fulton as he exchanged heated words with the pair.
"Everyone tries to bash me," Gibbs said. "It's like I've got a target on my head. A lot of people don't like me, I don't know why. But you don't go out on to the field trying to make any friends.
"I remember George Rose hit Fitzy high with a late shot. But I've done late shots as well and he probably didn't mean it."
Fulton was concussed twice in the same Sea Eagles match but said: "There's no bad blood there. It will be a good physical game again.
"Manly are one of the hardest games you'll play all year, and we've got them twice.
"We have to be ready because they have such big front-rowers."
Manly and Wests were arch-rivals in the late 1970s and early 1980s. They were involved in a number of infamous all-in brawls during that time.
"Wests and Manly matches always had an edge about them," said former hooker Ray Brown, who played for both clubs.
"There were some wild brawls in the old days. I reckon there will be plenty of feeling in Sunday's match."