Undermanned rivals set for rematch
An injury-hit Manly side is desperate to earn revenge over an almost-as-depleted Bulldogs outfit that has already beaten the Sea Eagles on their home patch this year.
Sea Eagles back-rower Tom Symonds said the gritty 16-12 loss to Des Hasler's men at Brookvale in Round 3 will provide even more motivation for the last-placed northern beaches club going into tonight's must-win battle at ANZ Stadium.
"We really need a win so hopefully we can get that and really turn it around, just getting that one win will take a fair bit of pressure off," he said.
"We're still confident we're going to turn around the season. Obviously it hasn't gone to plan the first six weeks but we're still confident we can turn it around.
"That [loss at Brookvale] only adds to our motivation to get one back on them – not that we need any more motivation!"
"That was a tight game as well, we were well in the match and they grinded us out and unfortunately they got the win so hopefully we can return the favour."
The Sea Eagles are still missing props Brenton Lawrence (back), Josh Starling (knee) and Jesse Sene-Lefao (shoulder), second-rower Feleti Mateo (ankle), as well as talented backs Clinton Gutherson (ACL) and Tom Trbojevic (ankle), winger Jorge Taufua (shoulder) and key man, fullback Brett Stewart (groin).
They are still sweating on skipper Jamie Lyon (groin), and at times this year have had to do without five-eighth Kieran Foran (hamstring) and centre Steve Matai (shoulder) while back-rower Blake Leary (back) is working his way back from injury in the NSW Cup.
The Bulldogs haven't had quite as many injury woes but will be without fullback Brett Morris (hamstring) and centre Tim Lafai (knee) long-term, and the possible absence of prop Tim Browne (concussion) further exacerbates the front row shortage caused by suspensions to James Graham, David Klemmer and Sam Kasiano.
"They've got a couple out as well and had that loss last week so no doubt they'll be trying to get back on track. Both teams are going to be desperate so I think it's going to be a good clash," Symonds said.
"Some people underestimate [the problems injuries can cause], some people don't realise how much of an impact it can have.
"On one hand we don't want to use it as an excuse because we still have such a great team lining up every week so we still need to be playing better and winning. On the other hand if you take a couple of the best players out of any team in the NRL, particularly us when we've lost a few players in recent seasons, it hurts you.
"You can even look at the top teams, looks at Souths, they're missing [John] Sutton and Dylan Walker and they've already [lost] a couple of games now. It's not necessarily the reason but you can see you take a good couple of players out of any team and it hurts because the competition's so even.
"We can't really do anything about it. There's not too much chat about it because we can't really change it but the more guys we can get back on the field it's really going to help us."