We need to earn respect: Cherry-Evans
It is unlikely the top NRL sides currently worry too much about the once-feared Sea Eagles, who still need to earn respect back according to star half Daly Cherry-Evans.
While having run up three straight tough wins is nice, Cherry-Evans claims there is still a way to go before opponents will be looking over their shoulders at Manly come finals time, but he is adamant the 12th-placed club can still earn enough wins to feature in September.
"No, to be fair I don't think we probably deserve [the respect of other teams]," Cherry-Evans said from Manly's Narrabeen training base on Thursday.
"We're sitting in the bottom eight of the ladder and though we've won three in a row we're under no illusions that we didn't play at a high enough standard to set our season up.
"I don't think right now people would be too worried about us because we're still pretty low on the ladder.
"I don't think people would be too threatened by us right now but in five weeks' time or six weeks' time if we're a chance of still making finals I dare say people would rather not play us, definitely."
He hoped if the team can string a few more wins together – and they are expected to make it four on the bounce when they host the struggling Knights at Brookvale Oval on Sunday which could push them as high as ninth – they will earn that respect back.
"We're still pretty optimistic that we're a chance [of making the finals]," he said.
"We feel that we control our own destiny which is the great part about it. If we don't drop a game then we're going to give ourselves every chance to be around that mark that gets you in the top eight so as cliché as it sounds, we do have to take it week by week.
He said the team last year was guilty of lifting its eyes from the task at hand when they lost a Round 24 fixture to Parramatta against heavy expectations with a finals berth beckoning after a late-season surge.
"We only have to look back to last year where we lost to the Eels at Brooky. We'll definitely learn from that and take it week by week. We've got a fair bit of self-belief around here," he added.
The difference in the team over the past three wins compared to its horror seven-match losing run was simply a case of hard work paying off and getting a consistent team on the park, according to Cherry-Evans.
"I believe a lot has to do with the way we've been working over the past couple of months. The hard work hasn't stopped even through the run of losses. I definitely believe we've kept our head down, our bum up and we've been working really hard for this situation to arise and it's no secret keeping the team on the paddock has definitely helped us as well.
"It is [nice to have a consistent 17] and anyone who's been able to watch our games over the past month would be able to see we're playing as a pretty solid team. We're practising and we're training and being able to execute that on the day which comes down to having sessions together and the same people on the field."
He admitted it was a challenge mentally to keep bouncing into training when the wins weren't coming.
"During the losses it's a mental challenge to get yourself up for training sessions and to come to work with a spring in your step," Cherry-Evans said.
"It can be very forced at times when you're not winning games but I feel as though lately there is a slight bit of confidence around the place and self-belief not just amongst ourselves but our teammates and the coaching staff and what we're doing and trying to achieve here."
After playing alongside a few halves partners this year (and missing a few games himself) Cherry-Evans said the move to switch captain Jamie Lyon into five-eighth had helped his own game.
"Jamie's calm demeanour in the halves has definitely worked wonders for us. He's our respected captain and whatever he says goes," Cherry-Evans said.
"He's been in a lot of situations in rugby league and he knows how to get out of I dare say all of them. When he speaks we listen and more often than not he leads us out of trouble, he's been great."
The halfback's teammates concurred with his assessment that other sides wouldn't yet be too worried about facing them.
"At the moment we haven't really put many games back to back but at the same time there's a couple of games there we missed by a thread," said prop Siosaia Vave.
"We missed the Penrith game (in Round 14), we were up by 20 points. We missed Cowboys, we missed the Gold Coast Titans game and Canberra we should have come back and won that game so that's four games, that's eight points and that makes a big difference for where we sit on the ladder.
"That makes a difference to where people see us and respect us."
He added the team is at least hitting its straps at the right time even if it is a steep hill to climb from their current position.
"We've won a few games back to back and hopefully we can get another one this weekend. The goal is to make semis but we've got to take it week by week and build from there," he said.