Sea Eagles five-eighth Dylan Walker celebrates a try against former club South Sydney.

The bond forging Manly's new halves duo

They are close mates, former premiership-winning teammates, housemates and now halves partners and it's that close bond Manly's current halves pairing of Dylan Walker and Api Koroisau hopes will see them gel almost overnight.

With senior playmaker Daly Cherry-Evans early on in his recovery from a syndesmosis injury and both reserve halves Tim Moltzen and Isaac John out injured, regular rake Koroisau's recall from the Intrust Super Premiership is guaranteed to continue at least until Cherry-Evans' return in about a month.

Koroisau was his team's best player in a close loss to Souths last week in his first game at halfback for the club – busting 11 tackles and scoring a try – while Walker also performed strongly.

While kicking and last-tackle options were a problem for Trent Barrett's men, that's hardly surprising given the ball-players had just a single 25-minute session together as they came to the end of a gruelling stretch of three games in 11 days on the back of consecutive five-day turnarounds.

Fresh from a three-day break, Koroisau credited both Walker's form, as well as his flatmate's calm presence for keeping him level off the field.

"I'm just real close to him and we know each other's games," Koroisau said. "It was a massive help coming into last week as well.

"The biggest thing about last week was just reminding myself to have fun while playing."

After spending some of their three-day break duelling each other on the X-Box ("unfortunately he lost so he's a bit down," Koroisau laughed), the Fijian international was hopeful a full week together on the training paddock would smooth over the rough edges from the Souths game.

"We've done a bit more in our preparation [this week] so hopefully we get the two points over there [in New Zealand]," he said.

Koroisau said the fact he had recently moved and had a spare room at the time Walker followed him to the northern beaches made the decision to move in together an easy one.

"I moved into the house here about a month before he signed. I had a room spare so as soon as he told me he was coming I [offered him the room]. It's all amazing. The only time we do talk a lot of footy is probably game day.

"He's really impressed me this season. He came here knowing he had to do a job and he's worked hard to get it done.

"He's playing amazing too and I think he has a real future at five-eighth."

 


Walker also had plenty of praise for his flatmate – in particular the way he bounced back from a demotion to the Instrust Super Premiership to star in his first game back in the top grade.

He was confident the pair's off-field combination would have positive flow-on effects for the team.

"We probably wouldn't talk too much footy [at home] but as in combinations of what we like to do it's probably going to help us in the next month or two. That's going to help as a team. Api played really awesome the other night, I thought he did a fantastic job," Walker said.

Walker said Koroisau's head didn't drop in his time out of first grade.

"I was just trying to be more positive than anything. But he was down in reserve grade playing fantastic for the reggies team," Walker said.

"That's probably the best thing for Api, last week and how he performed. He was a bit down the first couple of rounds but him coming in and doing a fantastic job, like he did, did him a world of good.

"It was probably a little bit tough for him but the way he came back, you can't second guess that, how much confidence he's had."

Although Walker did reveal his flatmate needed a bit of off-field help in other departments.

"He does not cook at all, that's one thing he doesn't do," Walker laughed.

"He's all right [overall], he's a bit of a slob every now and then, I have to be the mum and dad for him but he goes all right. He washes the dishes but that's about it!"

The pair also earned some praise from some of Manly's most senior players.

Lyon said both had played well against Souths and Walker had been steadily improving in his transition to the halves this year.

"It's good to watch because we know how good he is in the centres, and to go to another position and excel, it's really good for the young kid. He's definitely improving every week and he's a really good bloke to have in the side," Lyon said of Walker.

Centre Steve Matai said Koroisau had been "exceptional" against Souths.

"He ran the ball well, he got everyone into position quickly. He knows his job and he did it well on the weekend and if he keeps doing that he'll be great for us," Matai said.

"He's been great over the pre-season, coming in playing hooker, playing half. I've seen enough over the pre-season to know he'll do a great job for us. It showed on the weekend and I hope he can take that into Saturday and perform well for us."

He said the pair had already shown enough over the pre-season together and in one NRL game for the club to know they could perform well together.

"If the guys around them do their job their job will be a lot easier and I think they'll be fine," he said.