Sea Eagles spark Storm rivalry again as Walker, Scott face off
Melbourne's Curtis Scott can expect a torrid reception when he lobs on the Northern Beaches for the first time since fracturing Dylan Walker's eye socket, reigniting the fierce rivalry between the two clubs.
Manly have poured further petrol on the fire by marketing this Saturday's clash as the 10th anniversary of their 2008 grand final demolition of the Storm, selling shirts and merchandise branded "40-nil" to commemorate the club's biggest triumph over their Victorian adversary, despite enduring one of their most forgettable seasons on record.
Walker will be named at five-eighth on Tuesday but still must pass muster through the week after suffering a partially dislocated kneecap against Penrith. It was his first game back since Scott's punch left him sidelined for six weeks.
Members of the Sea Eagles side that belted Melbourne 40-0 will be in attendance at Lottoland, though it's unlikely title-winner Anthony Watmough will be among them after his recent attack on current skipper Daly Cherry-Evans, in which he denigrated the star half and alleged that he refused to train until his contract was upgraded in 2012.
In a season where Manly are seemingly lurching from one off-field drama to another and struggling with just five wins for the season, veteran forward Joel Thompson conceded that baiting the high-flying Storm may not be the sharpest move.
"We've still got a long way to go, we've been battling this year," Thompson said.
"We had a good win the other week but we need to build from that. That's the standard we need to go from there.
"There's a type of game, you don't need to build it up too much talking about it. I think it'll all come. The reunion and the anniversary of the grand final, we just need to focus on the game that we need to bring and what we need to do as individuals.
"I think when you get caught up in those sort of things, I know myself, [if] I'm going out there thinking about ripping people's heads off [then] I'm not doing my role the best I can."
Scott will likely be public enemy No.1 with the Sea Eagles faithful, particularly given he only served a two-week suspension for the blow that ruled Walker out for triple that amount of time.
Despite Walker declaring he has no hard feelings over the punch – even declaring last week that "he got me a beauty" – veteran half Trent Hodkinson expects the Storm youngster to cop it from the crowd on Saturday evening.
"I've been on the receiving end of a few sprays out there in different colours so I'm sure they won't be too quiet or nice to him," Hodkinson said.
Fellow Sea Eagles firebrand Martin Taupau backed Walker's confrontational approach to the game, which the ex-NSW utility says still gets the best results from him.
"Dylan Walker, he's always got something to say," Taupau said.
"He's definitely a character and he's one that will definitely pull you out of the trenches whether that's with his actions or his words.
"I think he's renowned for getting under players' skins with what he says. It sort of backfired in that game though."