Manu intimidated by young Panthers
Veteran Panthers back-rower Sika Manu has admitted he is intimidated by the young stock of boom rookies coming through the ranks at the club.
Languishing on the fringe of the first grade team for the most part of the season Manu said the likes of Bryce Cartwright, Tyrone Peachey and Reagan Campbell-Gillard do offer talents unlike any he has had to face throughout his NRL career.
While he has earned a reprieve for this weekend's game against the Raiders in the back row – with Cartwright in doubt with an ankle injury – it hasn't really allayed any fears Manu had on losing his spot.
"I've been playing for a while now and to see this amount of talent come through at the same is a bit intimidating but I can't do much about it. I'm still trying to help them out with their game and try to improve mine at the same time," Manu told NRL.com.
"We talk a little bit, as everyone does. We talk football and about life, they're my teammates after all. So we're always willing to help each other out.
"I'm just focusing on getting a bit of game time. Ivan [Panthers coach Cleary] has just told me I have a few things I need to work on.
"Obviously we have a lot of young talent that are coming through like young Bryce and Tyrone who are playing really well so it's been difficult to get back on the field."
Asked what he has to do to ensure his spot in Cleary's team for the remainder of the season, Manu said it was a matter of racking together a string of good performances.
"I just need to play some consistent football I think. I just need to get one good game under my belt and then try build it up from there," Manu said.
"It's driven me a lot over the past few weeks; it just makes me want to play even more now so I've been pushing all the boys throughout the week.
"It's really important for me to perform. I have to step up massively to try and help the boys get on the right foot for the finals. It'll be a huge challenge but it's one I'm ready to take it up."
Tied on 18 competition points on the Telstra Premiership ladder with the Raiders, Manu said it was a must-win affair to boost his team's finals hopes.
"It seems that it is do-or-die. The Raiders have played some good football as well lately so it's not going to be easy for us," he said.
"This game is massive, and we'll need to come out and play our best."
Manu was also happy to get behind the Panthers' attempt to raise $100,000 for the Nepean Hospital Ronald McDonald Family Room this Sunday afternoon.
"It's awesome and always good to be behind things like this so the more people who can get to Pepper Stadium, the better," he said.
"The more money we can raise, the more we can help out the Nepean Hospital's Ronald McDonald Family Room."