Praise for Manly rookie ahead of big Anzac clash
The bustling debut of young Sea Eagles prop Addin Fonua-Blake has drawn praise from two of the men who have been in good form for the club in the same position, ahead of the team's crucial visit to Newcastle on Anzac Day.
Injected off the bench by coach Trent Barrett just before half-time for a 22-minute spell, then brought back for the final 11 minutes, the ex-Dragon raised eyebrows with some bruising runs and tackles.
It's a key period for the one-time Junior Kiwi who was sacked by St George Illawarra for disciplinary reasons at the start of last year before being handed a lifeline by Manly.
In a tense game against the Eels on debut, the Mascot junior racked up 100 metres from just eight carries with one tackle bust, and made 21 tackles with no misses in a highly promising debut.
With Brenton Lawrence returning from a hip strain to face the Knights, Fonua Blake has been preferred to Josh Starling for a spot on the bench and Lawrence praised the impact the debutant made last week.
"He's a good ball runner, he's very hard to stop, big and strong," Lawrence told NRL.com.
"For his first game I think he showed some great confidence and given more opportunity I think he could be an exciting player. He's hard to stop and that's the name of the game really."
Lock Jake Trbojevic – himself a breakout star at prop just a year ago – was highly impressed by the first-up effort.
"I thought he was outstanding for his first game, he was incredible," Trbojevic told NRL.com.
"We'll be looking for more of that from him. He was really good, real strong, didn't look out of place one bit and really dominated at times I thought. It's exciting to play with him again and have him out there.
"He's just really strong and hard to tackle and he's got good footwork and I think that really showed on Thursday night against Parra, he had some good touches.
"He's a quality player, it was only a matter of time til he got out there and we've all seen what he did, he was really impressive."
Trbojevic said he himself was fully fit following a minor knee injury that forced his withdrawal from the loss to the Rabbitohs in Round 5 and was looking forward to his second Anzac Day NRL game after helping his team to a win over the Storm in Melbourne on April 25 last year.
"I played last Anzac Day, we played down in Melbourne. It was a pretty special occasion and the way the NRL did it was pretty cool. We had a good win so it made it all the better, it was a good day," Trbojevic said.
Trbojevic was expecting a much improved Newcastle side to the injury-ravaged one that was trounced by the Broncos last week.
"They had a big crowd there when they played the Tigers a couple of weeks ago, they had 21 thousand or something and we're expecting the same. Public holiday, Anzac Day, they'll get a big turnout and they're playing really good footy up there. They'll really buy into it and it should be a good atmosphere up there," he said.
"They're a different team at home, last week is tough to take anything out of, they ended up with no bench which makes it tough for any side so they'll be really good up there."