Steve Matai celebrates scoring the opening try on Saturday night.

Matai recalls 2009 turnaround

Stand-in Manly skipper Steve Matai believes his side can repeat their efforts of 2009 when they lost their first four games of the year and still managed to make the finals. 

Saturday night's 22-12 defeat in Penrith has left the Sea Eagles stranded at the bottom of the NRL ladder and facing an uphill battle to make the finals. 

But Matai said the club had been written off before – and made the critics eat humble pie. 

"I remember it was '09, we lost our first four games coming off the back of a premiership in '08. It still burns in my memory. It's something I still remember. We still made the finals that year," Matai recalled to NRL.com. 

"We're still in it [this year], we're not far off. We've just got to stick to what we know: completing our sets and getting in the grind."

The veteran centre is one of six Sea Eagles still remaining from that 2009 squad, and he believes there is enough time for them to replicate that effort again. 

"We've had people write us off my whole career here. I'm not too worried. As long as I know the boys are putting in here. If we do that, I'm sure we'll be okay," he said.

"It's a bit early at the moment. We want to focus on the first half of the year and when we get closer to that, we'll start thinking about finals."

Matai jumped to the defence of coach Geoff Toovey, who this week came under fire from the club's hierarchy for the side's disappointing start to the year. 

Their defeat in Penrith consigned the Sea Eagles to their eighth loss in their past nine games, a run stemming from last season. 

"Toovs is a great coach. We're just in a bit of a low spot at the moment," he said. 

"The only ones that are going to get us out is us. We've got to turn up every week, be confident, keep going through our sets and play some footy. If we do that, we'll be okay."

The former New Zealand international also vouched for outgoing halves Kieran Foran and Daly Cherry-Evans, who have struggled to reach peak form in the early part of the season. 

"I know that they're going to put in every week. Everyone that puts that jersey on is going to put in. We all know that," Matai said. 

"I think it's pretty weak if you put that jersey on and don't put in. Everybody knows what we are, what we're made of here. I think if everyone just puts in every week, I'm sure we'll be okay."