Embarrassed Manly pack looks to restore pride
A Sea Eagles pack that has matched it with some of the best forward packs in the NRL this year will be looking to restore some pride against Cronulla at Brookvale Oval on Sunday after being embarrassed at Leichhardt in Round 5.
The still-developing Manly forward rotation surprised plenty with huge showings in wins over Souths in Round 2 and the Roosters in Round 4, but was swamped by a young and energetic Wests Tigers outfit in a 34-18 loss last weekend.
Prop Josh Starling, who played a vital role in those wins, concedes the pack's pride was damaged after the loss.
"They out-enthused us in every way possible... we've really got to step it up this week because we can't let that happen two weeks in a row," Starling said.
"They just wanted it a bit more than us, they came out firing and we turned over too much ball and we couldn't hold it with them after all that defence.
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"We won't want to do that in front of the Manly fans because they'll let us know. We can't afford to be inconsistent anymore, we had a great couple of weeks against the big packs then the Tigers came out and blew us off the park, we can't do that.
"We've just got to have a look at ourselves and realise you don't want to play like that again, Tooves [coach Geoff Toovey] doesn't have a problem with shoving you back to reserve grade so no-one's safe."
Second-rower Justin Horo said the side didn't want to blame an energy sapping win over the Roosters the week before as an excuse but said it may have contributed to the lacklustre showing.
"It was a very disappointing effort from us, a little bit embarrassing to be honest," Horo said.
"They came out firing and thoroughly deserved to win on the back of that.
"They got the jump on us on the weekend as a forward pack and we'll have to remember that for next time we play."
However Horo denied the side was ambushed by the Tigers' fast start.
"People bring that up, I don't think we ever get complacent about 'we're going to take it easier' on any certain sides, sometimes those big games like the Roosters takes a lot out of you, you don't really feel the effects until maybe the week after but that's just another excuse. We've got to be ready to play every week and we weren't."
Five-eighth Kieran Foran said despite the heavy nature of the loss there is no cause for concern.
"We probably just turned up a little bit off, you've got to give full credit to the Tigers, they played very direct and probably carried the ball a bit harder than we did and tackled a bit harder. I think we got blown off the park, it's a hard mountain to climb when you look up at the scoreboard and it's 26 nil," Foran said.
"I honestly couldn't remember the last time that's happened to us. It was unusual, it's a different sort of feeling, to have that feeling where you're continually behind the posts, we don't normally get that here.
"I just think it was one of those weeks, we've just got to put it behind us now and get back to the winning form."