Preview Ė Manly v Storm (Brookvale Oval Sat 14th March 7pm)
Usually when Manly play the Storm the media build it up as a battle between two great rivals over the past 10 years. But this week the main focus has been around the Manly halves, with Cherry-Evans agreeing to terms with the Titans for 4 years and Foran being rumoured to be joining the Eels next season.
Itís easy to say Manly did not look too switched on last week, and at times I felt that. But when you lose an outside back (Gutherson) in the early stages of a game it forces a major reshuffle, especially when you carry 4 forwards on the bench. Taking nothing away from the Eels though, who were way too good on the night.
The Storm last week managed to grind out an away win against the Dragons. That game saw only 1 line break for each side and minimal offloads.
This week Manly will be without Foran, who should be sidelined for at least a couple of weeks with a hamstring strain. They will also be without Gutherson(for the season) and Hasson. Jack Littlejohn comes in for Foran, who has played a handful of first grade games now. Steve Matai is a welcome addition at left centre returning from off-season surgery, and Sao will come in for Hasson. Jamie Buhrer canít be too far away as well, and is in fact tipped to be a late inclusion.
The Storm have named the same side that beat the Dragons on Monday night, but Learoyd-Lahrs should come in for the suspended Kaufusi.
I do not know what to expect for this game. I was really disappointed that the Eels put 42 points on us last week. It was the first game of the season, and I felt Manly would put all their issues aside and rise to the occasion. But it appears there is more to it.
This week will tell the fans another story. If we canít lift for our first game at Brookvale, against fierce rivals the Storm then something is wrong. I am not saying we have to win, but I am saying we must be ready for battle.
Can Manly bounce back at Brookvale this week?