We control our finals destiny: Sea Eagles
The equation for the Sea Eagles is simple: win and they're in.
There will be plenty of ifs, buts and maybes if they lose to the Panthers at Lottoland on Saturday night with Manly set to fall out of the top eight should the Dragons and Cowboys both claim Round 26 victories, however Sea Eagles skipper Daly Cherry-Evans said his side's sole focus would be on handling their own affairs rather than focusing on hypotheticals.
"We certainly won't be buying too much into the results outside of what we can determine," a defiant Cherry-Evans said.
"We can only determine what goes on Saturday at 5:30 so we'll be making sure this playing group is investing their energy into producing a win. Ultimately, whatever else happens shouldn't really affect us if we can buy into that and worry about ourselves."
The fact the Sea Eagles still control their destiny is somewhat remarkable given they trailed the Warriors by seven points with five minutes remaining last week only to somehow manufacture a win on the back of some Cherry-Evans brilliance.
It was the sort of gritty performance coach Trent Barrett wanted to see from his troops at this stage of the season and one that has them primed heading into a virtual elimination final against a Panthers side that will be equally desperate.
"We were dead set written off for all money with seven minutes to go on the weekend," the star halfback acknowledged.
"I'd like to think this squad now has a very strong focus and a very strong confidence amongst each other and ourselves that we can continue on and we do determine our fate. I guess that's the most exciting part for me; we can control what happens this weekend and moving forward and that's the best part about it.
"Trent touched on it straight after the game; obviously winning a lot easier could have masked a few things, but winning as close as we did against some really good opposition, I feel as though it taught us how to win tight games again and second of all it's also instilled a fair bit of confidence going into this week's match-up."
Should the Sea Eagles go on to miss the finals, it would be the third year in a row that the powerhouse northern beaches club had missed out on a spot in the playoffs.
Trying to grade their 2017 campaign isn't something their skipper wants to get caught up in, yet he believes Manly deserve a pass mark regardless of where they finish; a fair assessment given they lost their first two games and struggled with injuries throughout the year yet still sat in third position after 19 rounds.
"There are so many hypotheticals, and I guess if you look at our season to date, I still feel as though it is a pass mark, yet that will be determined by whether we make the finals or not," he said.
"This is a proud club, this is a club that has expectations to always make the finals so we do have to reserve a bit of our judgement of how our season has been on a whole, but ultimately we just need to narrow our focus to the game this weekend."