Manly players say their drastically overhauled roster is no excuse for their slow start to the season last Friday night and to a man are relishing the chance to reverse their form at Leichhardt Oval next Monday night.
The 10-day turnaround will give the new-look Sea Eagles plenty of time to dwell on what went wrong in their 28-6 loss to the Bulldogs at Brookvale in Round 1 but the players are treating it as a wake-up call.
"It was disappointing. It wasn’t a good result. We've got a long turnaround so we’ll have a few training runs and tweak a few things," captain Jamie Lyon said from the club's Narrabeen training base on Monday morning.
"What we trained all pre-season to do, we didn’t do what we set out to do."
Lyon said regardless of having to adapt to Dylan Walker transitioning to the halves in place of Kieran Foran, as well as losing fullback Brett Stewart for the opening game to a hamstring strain, the side still expected to put in a better showing than it did.
"We didn’t play our best. We had a full house at Brookie and let our fans and members down. We’ll be better this week," he said.
"You’ll see a better team on Monday."
Asked how long he was expecting the new halves combination to take to click, Lyon smiled: "One week hopefully!
"They’ve looked great in the pre-season. We’re not too concerned, we’re just disappointed... 'Chez' came off shoulder surgery, 'Walks' is new to the club but gets better every training session. They're good footballers. They won’t take long to gel."
Lyon said rookie coach Trent Barrett had kept his cool after an opening game capitulation despite having every reason to rant and rave.
"He's pretty calm. Disappointed, like us players, and knows we can do better. He has a calm head and aura about him. We have to play better for him," Lyon said.
Young gun Tom Trbojevic – who was one of his side's best on Friday night deputising at fullback for Brett Stewart – said it was a simple case of his side not turning up.
"Leading in, a lot of new players came in, new coach, I know there was a lot of hype behind us but we just didn't turn up on the day really," Trbojevic said.
"We have high expectations on ourselves so I don't think they (the expectations) were unfair, we didn't turn up it's as simple as that, the Bulldogs were too good for us. There's 26 rounds so 25 to go. We'll train hard this week and look to turn it round against the Tigers at Leichhardt on Monday."
Trbojevic conceded the side had their pants pulled down by a Dogs side that turned up ready to go but like his captain, insisted the new halves combination would gel sooner rather than later.
"I think it will definitely turn around. We just didn't hold the ball, we just need to focus on what we need to do. The more time Cherry-Evans and Walker play together they're going to get better and better so we'll be looking to do that next week and hopefully it can all come together."
Back-rower Blake Leary said the squad couldn't wait to get back on the park to make up for their opening loss.
"I think everyone's just looking forward to this week coming. We know we can't go back on that game and I think it was a good lesson for us, the wake-up call we needed so early in the season – we can't just rock up and expect to win," Leary said
While the Manly forward pack was stinging after losing the battle in the middle against the Dogs, Leary insisted he'd back the Sea Eagles pack against any in the competition.
"We know the quality of forwards we've got and I'd match our forwards against anyone in the league but we just gave them too much ball," he said.
"I think it was just a wake-up call really, I don't think we'll dwell on it too much, we'll just go back on a few things we can improve and be bigger and better next week."