Missing stars no excuse: Toovey
He will be sweating on their fitness all week but coach Geoff Toovey insists that with or without his side's Origin stars, the Sea Eagles have to find a way to be better than what they displayed in their heavy defeat to Brisbane on Sunday afternoon.
Manly conceded two contentious tries in the opening eight minutes of their clash with the Broncos at Suncorp Stadium and were never able to recover, conceding more than five tries in a game for the first time this season in a 36-10 hiding.
Toovey is hopeful that injured Origin representatives Daly Cherry-Evans and Anthony Watmough will both be fit to take their place against the Bulldogs at Brookvale Oval on Friday night and said that the ankle injury that forced Kieran Foran from the field late in the game was only precautionary.
Foran did his utmost to lead an inexperienced forward pack around the park against a Broncos team playing with plenty of energy and Toovey was adamant that they had the troops available to put in a much better performance.
"We don't gauge it on the people who are missing, we gauge it on the people that are there," Toovey said. "We take accountability for that and the players do and we know we're a better side than the performance we did today.
"We're hoping to have both [Cherry-Evans] and 'Choc' (Watmough) back so that will be a good boost for us but if they're not then we'll be expecting a better performance than we did tonight.
"We're disappointed in our performance and we have to turn it around because we have to back it up against the Bulldogs on Friday."
Captain Jamie Lyon was his usual laconic self in the post-match press conference, preferring to move on as quickly as possible rather than dwell on the side's heaviest defeat since the 2012 preliminary final loss to Melbourne.
"We were slow out of the blocks today and paid the price in the end," Lyon said. "We weren't as enthusiastic as them and it's one we want to forget and move on and build up for Friday night.
"We've got to have a look at a bit of tape and we've got a lot to work on during the week but the short turnaround will be good for us."
The Broncos shot out to a 10-0 lead inside the first 10 minutes courtesy of two tries that had more than a pencil-thin question mark associated with them.
Broncos winger Lachlan Maranta appeared to bobble possession after Dale Copley had lost the ball backwards in the fourth minute but the on-field decision stood, while Alex Glenn scored the easiest try of any player's career when he simply placed his hand on the Steeden after Daniel Vidot had lost the ball backwards in trying to ground the ball after flying high to take a Ben Hunt cross-field bomb.
The Broncos went on to enjoy 71 per cent of possession in the game's first 17 minutes and had four tries by the half-hour mark and Toovey did concede that momentum was certainly with the home side in the opening period.
"I was more concerned with the second try when they were held up and he lost it backwards between his legs and the other put his hand on it. Please," Toovey said, when asked about the decision to deny a try to Steve Matai midway through the first half.
"It all does that (affect momentum) but when you're playing an enthusiastic side, when the penalty count is 7-1, they get those 50/50 calls and they get the calls from the referee.
"I could bitch on about it but it's not going to change the result, they were just more enthusiastic and got those decisions going their way."