Dan Walsh, Staff Writer
The top brass at Manly may be refusing to buy into any talk that last year's grand final defeat will be a motivating factor in the Sea Eagles showdown with the Roosters this Friday, but further down the line foot soldier Brenton Lawrence is more than happy to march to the beat of a different drum.
While skipper Jamie Lyon hosed down any suggestion Manly's 26-18 defeat to the Tricolours in last year's decider would be on his chargers' minds ahead of the Brookvale blockbuster, Lawrence had no issue with drawing on the pain of losing the decider to produce his best.
"Obviously they beat us in the grand final so there's no shortage of motivation there to beat them on Friday," said Lawrence.
"We haven't talked about it as a team as such but personally it's something that sticks with me.
"Just the fact that they got on top of us and just as a personal thing I will always want to beat them that little bit more now."
With the return of Kangaroos and NSW second-rower Boyd Cordner to the Roosters line-up confirmed, the premiers will field a full-strength forwards contingent for the first time in 2014, but Lawrence is confident the Sea Eagles' next generation of big men, led by the likes of Dunamis Lui and Josh Starling, can step up to the star-studded Roosters pack in the absence of veterans Glenn Stewart (ankle injury) and Anthony Watmough (suspended).
"It's a big challenge, but I think they're well and truly up to it," said Lawrence, who tasted victory against the Chooks for the first time in six starts in Manly's 8-0 win in Round 4 earlier this year.
"They've been handling themselves quite well in recent weeks and I think that they've got a lot of confidence in what they can do – and that's crucial."
"I think they relish these opportunities to prove themselves, and these challenges are great for them."
Lyon says it will be on for both young and old come Friday night, with the 32-year-old identifying co-captain Jason King as the man to take on Roosters enforcer Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, who returns to Brookvale Oval for the first time since being sent off for a high tackle on Manly's George Rose in the corresponding fixture 12 months ago.
"We've got Jason King there... he's got that aggressive mentality and he'll definitely be one to put his hand up and put in a solid performance," said Lyon.
"He's similar to Jared in the way he plays; they both play aggressive and that's where they play their best footy.
"I think the people at home watching on TV and at the ground they like seeing those aggressive players. And even sitting out on the wing I like seeing it as well, so I'm looking forward to it."
Lawrence was quick to rule out any thought of baiting Waerea-Hargreaves, who with 15 indiscretions this season sits alongside Penrith's James Segeyaro as the NRL's most penalised player, though he conceded the Kiwi enforcer could expect an earbashing from Manly fans who are unlikely to have forgotten the shot on Rose that saw him suspended for five games last season.
"I don't think you need to bait Jared," said Lawrence.
"He's got that aggression and I don't think he needs any baiting.
"The reception [he gets] will be pretty interesting, but then the Manly faithfuls' reception for anyone coming to Brookie has never been too warm, but I imagine they will give it to him."