Everyone's waiting for us to fail: Manly
Despite some impressive and consistent form helping the Sea Eagles to sixth place on the ladder halfway through the 2017 Telstra Premiership season, the players believe there is still a view that they can't keep it up.
That may stem in part from Manly's struggles last year in finishing 13th but they have won seven of 12 games so far this year and only twice been on the wrong end of big scorelines in Rounds 2 and 6, and star centre Dylan Walker reckons it's about time the players and coaches got a bit of credit.
"I think we still are [under the radar]; everyone's just waiting for us to fail," Walker said in the wake of his side's second golden point win over the Raiders this year.
"Everyone seems to keep writing us off or [thinking] teams aren't playing well [against us].
"There's a bit of flying under the radar and people not giving us the credit I think we deserve. That just shows the resilience in the boys that we're going to keep turning up every week and playing our best and people can have a say or think whatever they want."
Manly skipper Daly Cherry-Evans was keen to keep a lid on expectations with the team still needing another five wins to qualify for this year's finals but is of the view that many pundits aren't accounting for just how much of the team's salary cap is sidelined this year.
It hasn't received much coverage since the season kicked off but star backs Brett Stewart and Steve Matai are taking up a fair chunk of the club's salary cap this year, meaning the squad has effectively been playing with a handicap from the start of the year.
"I think that [salary cap issue] is something that has gone very unnoticed," Cherry-Evans said.
"What the coaching staff at this club's been able to do, to put us in a position to be a finals contending side with those restraints around our salary cap, it's a bloody big effort and it's a credit to where this club's moving."
Despite the positive signs, he stressed the players aren't getting carried away.
"We're at the halfway mark, we're in a good position to put ourselves in finals contention but to think big picture – it's exciting but we won't get too far ahead of ourselves," he said.
Both players stressed the importance of not taking this week's opponents Newcastle lightly despite the Knights'' lowly 16th place on the ladder.
"I'm sure everyone gets asked the same question when they play Newcastle, don't be complacent," Cherry-Evans said.
"We're in the same position as everyone else who's played Newcastle – we respect them.
"I think they have a better side than what's been displayed of where they are on the ladder. They have a lot of potential in that side to put a lot of points on. While they haven't been able to do that recently we're not so naive to think that can't happen."
Walker also wasn't buying into Newcastle's ladder position as an indicator of strength.
"Each and every game they're competing as hard as they can and this is a big period for us," Walker said.
"Especially coming up with the bye, you get to refresh during that period and I think we need it more than anyone because we've got a couple of wounded soldiers out here. We've got to bring our game on Friday with a short turnaround."