Manly have identified an intense five-week period where they play each of their top-four counterparts to gauge their premiership worth, starting when they host South Sydney on Friday night.
And they could be boosted by the return of Glenn Stewart, who is a chance to make his comeback from a serious knee injury in what would be his first appearance of the year. Should he not pass a late week fitness test, Stewart is almost certain to play against St George Illawarra on Monday week.
Sitting second behind Melbourne, Manly have dismissed any doubts surrounding their ageing roster heading into this season. The Sea Eagles played three top-eight teams in their opening six games with their only hiccup a two-point loss to Gold Coast.
Winger David Williams said this next period of football before their round 12 bye was a true test.
''We've got a massive five weeks ahead,'' Williams said. ''It'll be a good challenge and we'll certainly know where we sit. It hasn't been spoken about but I've had a look at it.
'We'll definitely speak about it and everyone knows who we are playing and where they sit [on the ladder] and how tough it is going to be. We haven't been playing our best and we've still got the two points which is a good change because in the past years games we were lacking in a little bit we threw away.''
Williams has overcome a slight back complaint and will play, as will teammate Anthony Watmough who had back tightness after featuring in Australia's 32-12 win against New Zealand on Friday night.
Watmough, who underwent scans on Monday morning, said Souths' monster forward pack had presented his team with their biggest challenge of this season.
''We haven't played easybeats but we haven't played the top teams,'' Watmough said. ''The Rabbitohs are contenders and they have a big pack. Our young boys will get a baptism of fire.''
Watmough said his team had to confront the Rabbitohs head on.
'I don't think I've seen a bigger team,'' Watmough said. ''There should be a weight salary cap - they are massive. Poor little me, they are going to try and run over the top of me.''
Meanwhile, Williams has rejected plans that he would join brother John in early retirement at season's end. The older Williams was forced into retirement at the age of 27 after he was unable to secure a NRL contract despite playing 19 first-grade games for Cronulla last year.
''Not much takes me by surprise these days with the rumour mill but it's not the reality,'' Williams said.
''It's definitely not on the books.'' Williams, 26, who is off contract at the end of this year said he hoped to remain at the club. ''If the game's done with me that will be it, but I'm hoping it's not.''