Tom Turbo ready for finals take-off
It was a symbolic moment on Saturday night as Sea Eagles legend Brett Stewart was walking a lap of honour around his beloved Brookvale Oval – or as we now call the venue, Lottoland.
As Stewart bid a final wave to the crowd at the ground where he played 99 games and produced some magical moments, Tom Trbojevic's name flashed up on the big screen.
Stewart would be at peace knowing he's left the No.1 jersey in great hands after an injury-crippled finish to his career in Sea Eagles colours.
Trbojevic has looked at home in the NRL from the minute he debuted in 2015 alongside the retired fullback but said having the chance to play alongside Stewart was surreal.
"Getting the opportunity to play with him, when I look back on my career when I do finish, playing alongside him is one of the first things I'll remember," Trbojevic said of Stewart.
"He's one of my childhood heroes, playing alongside him was surreal and what's he's done for the club and the game in general has been outstanding.
"He's probably one of the best fullbacks to play the game and in a Manly jumper. He deserved a farewell."
The promising fullback insists he's never dwelled on comparisons to Stewart or the pressure of following in his footsteps.
"When you look at the big picture, it's very hard to follow a guy like Brett Stewart," Trbojevic said.
"Watching the way he talks and is always pushing up through the middle every opportunity he gets. If I do half the things he's done in the game I'll be very happy."
Trbojevic will get first taste of playing in the finals arena on Saturday night against a Penrith side he tore to shreds only a week earlier.
After missing Origin selection this season due to injury, the 20-year-old will head into the clash with Penrith in what will be the biggest game of his career to date.
Taking on the Panthers again will provide a new challenge for Trent Barrett's side, who must win to push through to the second week of the finals.
"We knew we had to win and if that's not enough motivation to play this game I don't know what is," Trbojevic said.
"To cement a spot in the finals is very pleasing and it's going to be pretty special but the jobs not done yet."
Manly were written off before a ball was kicked at the start of the season and more recently were considered likely to slide out of finals calculations on the back five losses in seven games.
But two wins in the final fortnight, including a one-point thriller in golden point, saved Barrett's men from an early Mad Monday.
"The belief didn't drop because I knew what the side could produce. For the majority of the year we've been good but the last month we weren't up to standard," Trbojevic said.
"To put in a performance [against Penrith] I knew we had it in us. It just shows when we turn up with good energy and intent we can match any side.
"It's do or die now and we'll have to put our best foot forward again."