Manly's Kieran Foran overcame a dose of the flu to earn man-of-the-match honours in his team's win over Brisbane on Friday night. Credit: Grant Trouville. Copyright: NRL Photos.
His coach said he was touch-and-go to even appear in Friday night's 16-4 win over Brisbane but Manly five-eighth Kieran Foran says he was never going to miss the game.
Foran was arguably the difference between the two sides, setting up Brett Stewart for the match-winning four-pointer and making some crucial tackles in a man-of-the-match performance.
After the game he laughed off suggestions his participation was ever in doubt – just minutes after his coach told the post-match press conference he'd have to have locked Foran in his house to keep him from participating in the game.
"There's a bad flu going through the community in general. A couple of blokes missed the little bit of training we had last week," Toovey said.
"Kieran came down with the flu fairly heavily a couple of days ago. We needed to get through this game. That's what I am and what I think the Manly fans should be very pleased about.
"A couple of days ago maybe [he was in doubt] but I think you'd have to lock him in his house to keep him away."
For his part, Foran said his dose of the flu wasn't all that bad.
"I was fine, I just had a bit of a chest infection, coughing up heaps of crap but I'm on the antibiotics, I was fine, I was good to go," he said.
"I had a bit of a lighter day Wednesday [at training] but we didn't do much Wednesday and I got through the captain's run yesterday and it was fine, I was good."
Of the side's spluttering defence, which failed to capitalise on several golden opportunities in the first half, Foran said the weather may have been a factor.
"We said at halftime our attack probably wasn't as fluent as we would have liked. I think the wind had a bit to do with it... the passes were just that second slower than what they normally are.
"We couldn't seem to get any fluency in attack. I think it was just more of a defensive game tonight. The team turned up for each other on the tryline... when we had to defend out tryline we did. That'll be what will please the coaching staff the most.
"Defence wins premierships... we just need to focus on keep trying to build our defensive line up as strong as we can. We still leaked a few points, it's just a matter of fixing those areas, making sure you just keep turning up for one another."
t for any team to finish with the minor premiership because let's face it – I think our game and our competition would be the toughest in any sport in any land. To finish the regular season at the top is a pretty tough thing to do."
He said the main advantage came from finishing top-four, to earn a vital double-dip (since top-four sides cannot be eliminated in the first week).
"I don't think it's like the old days where the minor premiership has an advantage. While I think it's a fantastic achievement, it doesn't really help you out so much with regards to holding the trophy. It gives you a better opportunity with the second chance... but so does the top four."
Club captain Jamie Lyon agreed it would be a fantastic achievement but not necessarily a competitive boost.
"You want to win the Grand Final but [winning a minor premiership] is still a great achievement. It's good for the club to get that award but obviously we'd love to get the big one at the end."
Five-eighth Kieran Foran also said finishing top after 26 rounds was not the be-all and end-all.
"It's just a reward for your efforts throughout the year. It would be nice to get it – it would be rewarding for the amount of effort we've put in so far in the season but we're not focusing on it just yet. There's still five games to go, we've just got to focus on turning up next Friday against an in-form Souths team."
However he agreed it would be disappointing for the side not to finish top-two from their current lofty perch.
"It'd be nice to win the next few and just cement ourselves there. We just want to cement a top-four spot and give ourselves every chance going into the finals," he said.