Manly back-rower Tom Symonds has laughed off ongoing speculation around the playing future of his good mate Daly Cherry-Evans as the impending Round 13 deadline draws near.
The halfback signed a much-publicised four-year deal with Gold Coast earlier in the year, but has refused to close the door on talk he could be swayed to stay on the northern beaches, last week telling Fox Sports the club has a fortnight to come up with a deal to convince him to stay.
Symonds however said while the playing group isn't worried about the media hype he is looking forward to being able to turn the subject back to football.
"It's just been going on so long that it's kind of second nature," Symonds said of the non-stop speculation.
"It doesn't really worry me at all to be honest. Some of the guys who are involved in it might be worrying a little bit but I think as a team we don't get too concerned with it. It probably worries the media more than us, gives you guys something to write about every week but like I said ever since I've been here there's been speculation every week so it's kind of water off a duck's back."
He laughed that newspapers "might be out of a headline" once the deadline passes.
"I'm not too concerned about it but it will be good to change the subject, it's been drawn out and hopefully the spotlight might go back onto playing footy."
Symonds was hopeful the injured playmaker would be able to shake off a shoulder injury in time to face the Broncos at Suncorp Stadium on Friday night as the side looks to recover from a heartbreaking last-gasp loss to the high-flying Cowboys in Townsville last Saturday.
"I think he'll be doing some fitness tests this week, we haven't trained since the weekend so we'll see how he goes," Symonds said.
The return of the Queensland and Kangaroos utility would be a boon to the last-placed Sea Eagles who have had to make do without both starting halves for much of the year, in addition to a raft of other injuries in the forwards and outside backs.
"It will be good to have our starting team for the whole year; we haven't been able to do that but those two, Kieran [Foran] and Daly in particular are massive for our team so if we can get them on the park together that's a good start," Symonds said.
Symonds welcomed the side's underdog status ahead of the crucial clash with co-ladder leaders Brisbane.
"Yeah they've been going unreal so it's another tough task to back up well, train well, recover well. We've got a short turnaround and we really need the win as well. Two of the top four [in consecutive weeks], it's not easy but we'll be underdogs so hopefully the pressure will be on them."
He said the side needed to find a way to bounce back from the gutting loss in Townsville and said there were plenty of positives to take from a match where they were the better team for 79 minutes.
"It was definitely a tough one, we've had a couple this year but it was particularly hard to take given we had the match right up until the last couple of minutes. Tough one to bounce back from but there are some positives to take out of it too," he said.
"I thought the effort levels were really high, as they should be but we put in a lot of hard work and our defence was quite strong. We probably had a few opportunities, created a few in attack, we probably should have scored a couple more. A couple of times the last pass didn't stick and that sort of stuff. We're creating a few opportunities and putting ourselves in the match.
"I think if we show up with that same sort of desire and attitude [against Brisbane] that we did last week – that's half the battle. We've just watched a bit of video and shown where we were one pass or one step off the mark so if we can execute those final plays it will go a long way towards helping us."