Time for Eagles to swoop: Foran
Crafty Sea Eagles five-eighth Kieran Foran acknowledges Manly head into their finals clash against the Rabbitohs on Friday night in sub-standard form and must lift if they're to the grand final qualifier in a fortnight.
Winning just two of their past five fixtures, the Sea Eagles managed only a last-gasp win over the Panthers and a below-average three-point victory over the lowly Titans heading into the finals – something Foran admits of great concern down Narrabeen way.
"It is pretty basic, the last month we have been completing at 60 per cent," Foran said in reference to their recent form. "We have spoken about every week for the past month 'we have to hold the footy, we have to hold the footy' but now it is more important than ever.
"We have been playing ordinary footy and if we complete at 60 per cent again we will be beaten by Souths quite comfortably. So that's the test... can we get back to the style of footy that has been our brand for so many years now?"
Of greater concern for the Sea Eagles is the fact the beginning of their below-average run coincided with their Round 22 clash against the Rabbitohs at the SCG – a game where Sam Burgess and his Bunny cohort ran riot in a 23-4 shellacking.
"They bashed us last time and they were pretty brutal," Foran said. "They're a massive pack – everyone knows that – but it is about finding ways to match them and stop it.
"I have full faith and belief that our forward pack can do that. They have worked really hard this week to get over the top of Souths. I think if we can match it with them up front then we're giving ourselves every chance."
While previous form may point to another notch in the losing column for the Sea Eagles, Foran believes the club's forward pack will be raring to go on Friday – speaking of their "quiet confidence" heading into their tenth straight finals series.
"I know this forward pack really well and guided by guys like Choc [Watmough] and [Jason] Kingy, I know they won't want to get hit more than once. The Souths boys got one over them last time so I'm expecting our boys to give it right back," Foran said.
"There is a quiet confidence. We haven't been travelling as well as we have been in previous years at this point in the year but we know what we are capable of and we have been there and done it before."
With Foran awarded the club's players' player award last Tuesday evening, expect the five-eighth to ramp up his involvement against rookie five-eighth Luke Keary, who is shaping up for his first crack at finals football.