Rejuvenated Manly welcome back troops
Manly players are hoping a last-start win over Melbourne and the return of some injured players will help spark the side into a winning run that will drag them off the foot of the NRL ladder.
The side is currently in the highly unfamiliar position of outright last after eight rounds after a scarcely-believable injury list contributed to a horror 2-6 start to the year.
Skipper Jamie Lyon has been named to return from an ankle injury after being troubled by a groin strain over the opening rounds, although he still has to pass a late fitness test, while ball-playing back-rower Feleti Mateo has not been named but could be a late inclusion on Sunday as he looks to shake off medial and high ankle sprains. The likely return of Mateo would be particularly timely given five-eighth Kieran Foran is set to miss at least a month with a hamstring strain.
"There's a few [players] looking good and running around now; it's good to get out of the gym for one and to get boys back in the team is a massive bonus," Mateo said during the week.
"Sometimes it only takes one win and it can turn the whole season around. I'm not saying it will but it was a good sign."
If the club can keep the majority of its players on the field that will be half the battle this season, he added.
He said the win over Melbourne had been "massive" for the side's confidence and added that despite the fact it was viewed as a major upset by those outside the club there was no shortage of belief within the squad.
In his first season on the northern beaches, Mateo said it had been hard to watch as the losses racked up following his Round 4 injury against the Dragons.
"Anyone that's been injured knows what it's like," he said.
"I think for me, seeing a club that obviously is used to winning having those losses, when I can sit back and have a look from an injured point of view, the club, it's a different place.
"They're so used to winning and it's a good culture here, they're not used to it. But in saying that the boys have worked hard and coaching staff have worked hard, that win was massive."
The week off over the representative round had come at a good time in terms of allowing players to recover from injuries, while those in form or freshly back from injury such as New Zealand's Peta Hiku and Tonga's Jorge Taufua were better for the hit-out.
Lyon also welcomed having a few more players to choose from.
"It's definitely a good thing to get a few players back. We've still got a few guys out but fingers crossed we can get Josh Starling, Feleti Mateo, hopefully myself and a couple of other guys that are floating around there on selection as well. It's still early in the week for us, we don't play until Sunday so fingers crossed we can all get back on the park," Lyon said.
"It was a good win [in Round 8], tough conditions down there, it's always hard to play against Melbourne in Melbourne. We still need a few more wins to get back up the ladder a bit so we can't just rest on that win, we've got to kick on and get a couple more."