Manly shrug off minor premiership talk
They are already guaranteed to remain four competition points clear at the top of the NRL ladder after 21 rounds, but Manly aren't getting carried away looking at the minor premiership just yet.
Speaking after his side's 16-4 win over the Broncos on Friday night, Manly coach Geoff Toovey said while the minor premiership is no longer the competitive boost it may have been back in the old days of a top-five finals series, it is probably an even more impressive achievement now.
While Manly have won two of the past six premierships, they haven't finished on top of the ladder after the regular season since a hat-trick of minor premierships from 1995-1997 in the old ARL competition.
"I don't think it's vital or necessary [to win the minor premiership]," Toovey said.
"It's only necessary to be in the top eight – you put two or three games together and you win the grand final.
"I think it's a massive achievement 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.