Were goooornnnne - Deadwood on the bench and Monnas talking to the press



Rabbitohs a threat to Manly: Monaghan

Michael Monaghan insists Manly faces a tough challenge in its NRL clash with South Sydney Saturday night at Telstra Stadium, despite the Rabbitohs suffering a 66-0 hammering the last time they played at the ground.

The forlorn sight of a devastated Reggie the Rabbit springs to mind on that horrible day for Souths, who were belted by the New Zealand Warriors in the foundation club's worst ever loss.

But with the Rabbitohs close to full strength on Saturday, hooker Monaghan considers them a threat to Manly's push for a top four spot after it emerged from a three-match losing streak with a 33-16 win over the Sydney Roosters last weekend.

"To be totally honest I really think we're going to be in for a tough game," said Monaghan, whose future at Manly looks shaky after the club granted him permission to leave at the end of the season.

"It'll probably be our toughest game in the next four or five weeks.

"They've named a really strong side, they've got both MacDougall brothers (Adam and Luke) back and they put 28 points past the Dragons last week."

The only problem for the Rabbitohs is that St George Illawarra put 38 points past them, highlighting the side's woeful defence this season.

In a disturbing statistic for coach Shaun McRae, Souths have conceded less than 24 points only twice so far this season, including their only win after 18 rounds of the competition - a 34-14 victory over a depleted Brisbane last month.

"We've spoken about defence all year," said Gold Coast-bound forward Mark Minichiello.

"We get it right for little parts of the game but we can't get it right for 80 minutes.

"If someone misses a tackle you've got to cover their arse and we just don't seem to be doing that at the moment."

Monaghan, who has a further two years remaining on his contract, refuses to discuss his future but his position at the club looks untenable.

It could well be his last chance to win a premiership with the Sea Eagles along with the man who replaced him as club captain, Ben Kennedy, who will retire this year.

"That's why he's putting in so much effort and intensity into this season," Monaghan noted.

"It'd be good for everyone to win (the premiership) but sending BK out on the right note is certainly something we're all focused on doing."

With halfback Matt Orford fully recovered from a leg injury which has blunted his impact recently, the seventh-placed Sea Eagles threaten to cause serious damage leading into the finals.

They have a bye up their sleeve, play cellar dweller Souths twice and don't clash with a team above them on the ladder until the last two rounds of the regular season when they meet the Bulldogs and Melbourne.

It's the ideal preparation for the finals when they should have key trio Steve Menzies (hand), Anthony Watmough (thumb) and Steve Bell (cheek) back on deck.

Manly interchange forward Kylie Leuluai (ankle) is likely to be ruled out of Saturday's match, with Phil Morwood his replacement.

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