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Manly utility Lewis Brown started at hooker in Round 7.

Manly utility Lewis Brown is hopeful first-string hooker Matt Parcell will recover from a minor hamstring strain in time to face the Knights, though the Kiwi international is comfortable filling in at hooker for as long as he is needed.

Brown started at dummy-half for just the third time in his NRL career on Thursday (though he has played as a bench utility filling in there plenty of times) and performed admirably, playing all but the last 10 minutes of the game.

His four dummy-half scoots netted better than 10 metres per carry in addition to his 30 tackles, while he was also responsible for initiating a clever short-side play that led to his team's only try of the match.

The withdrawal of Parcell following the captain's run was nevertheless a blow for a side already missing halfback Daly Cherry-Evans, meaning the other regular hooker, Api Koroisau, is playing in the halves until the marquee man returns.

"Matty's a pretty fit young boy and I'm pretty sure he'll be back this week hopefully," Brown said, though he assessed his own effort as "not too bad".

"I hadn't trained at hooker for a long time; I haven't really played starting hooker before," he said.

"I just tried to do my job for the team. I got called in late on captain's run, Matty Parcell pulled out then and it was just something I had to do for the side."

While Parcell is a chance to face the Knights on Anzac Day, Cherry-Evans is rated little to no chance of an early return with the players still expecting the Origin utility back the week after for the home game against the impressive Cowboys.

The return of either player can't come soon enough for second-rower Blake Leary, who was called into the hooking rotation for a spell against the Eels. While he was mostly solid with a few nice dummy-half runs, an ill-advised short chip with his side narrowly ahead in the second half proved costly, giving up vital field position.

"My kicking licence has been taken off me. It's now null and void, I'll tell you that much!" Leary joked on Monday.

"I'm looking forward to locking in a position but like I told 'Baz' [Barrett] before, I'll play anywhere to be out on the field. It's probably not my ideal position, hooker, but it's what's best for the team."

Asked if he expected Parcell back this week, the affable North Queenslander laughed: "I hope so – for my sake anyway! But we'll see how it goes, hopefully he trains well this week and he'll be right."

Five-eighth Dylan Walker admitted it was a challenge having to adapt to yet another new playmaking combination at late notice, after he and housemate Api Koroisau were thrust into the halves together without a proper training session when Cherry-Evans was injured against the Roosters a month ago heading into a five-day turnaround.

"I thought they did really well, Lewy's a Test match player, he's one of the senior players in this team and I thought he did a really good job and so did Blake so it didn't really disrupt us too much but having Matty out last minute really hurts us as well," Walker said.

Prop Siosaia Vave had sympathy for the playmakers having to constantly adapt to personnel changes, but no so much sympathy it stopped him having a friendly jibe at Cherry-Evans as the star half continues his rehab from an ankle injury.

"They said two weeks, [in time for North Queensland] so hopefully sooner than later. It's hard with the five-day turnaround, they have different schedules to us because he's got physio and other commitments like that. He's been all right, what I've seen around, him and his long neck hanging around!"

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