In a boost for Manly fans, star fullback Tom Trbojevic got through his injury comeback unscathed despite hobbling at times in the second half – but the man himself insists his potential missed Origin debut is the furthest thing from his thoughts.
Trbojevic was solid but unspectacular in his first game since a nasty tackle suffered against Brisbane a month ago caused ankle and knee injuries and ruled him out of contention for Origin I with Bulldogs veteran Brett Morris getting a recall in Trbojevic's absence.
The Sea Eagles star needed attention from the club physio in the second half of the tense 18-14 win over Newcastle but played on and said afterwards it was just a knock and he was 100 per cent right to go before the game.
"I pulled up good. It was good to get a game under the belt," he said after the match.
"I just got a little bit of a knock but pulled through all right and got through the game so pretty happy, the physio is happy."
Trbojevic said there was a bit of hesitance in the second half after copping the knock to the same ankle he had injured previously.
"That can be the frustrating thing because I felt fully fit and going sweet; you get those little knocks but that's footy, we get them week in week out and everyone's got to deal with that so it's all good."
The rising star said putting himself in the frame for an Origin call-up hadn't been a factor in his return.
"I hadn't really considered that mate, I was just trying to get back on the footy field. I love playing footy and I love playing for Manly and that's what I've been trying to do," he said.
"I can't see them making too many changes after what they did in Game One so I hadn't considered it."
Trbojevic said he wasn't disappointed to have missed a possible Origin debut, despite the fact he seemed all but guaranteed the left wing berth before picking up the injury.
"I don't think that was the disappointment, missing Origin," he said.
"I was never picked in Origin so I didn't miss out on anything, it was more disappointing I had to have time off the field because I love putting the Manly jersey on, I love playing with this bunch of blokes. That was the disappointing thing for me."
His coach Trent Barrett said there was no question that the star fullback would not have been risked if there were any concerns of re-injury or if he was not 100 per cent.
"For him to get through, it was ordinary [weather] conditions to come back from a lower limb injury but he was 100 per cent fit. He's got two more weeks to get right for the Sharks," Barrett said.
"I think he was a bit worried [in the second half], he got caught awkwardly again but he's 100 per cent so that's really good."