Watching the Sea Eagles collapse to a 56-24 loss against the Roosters last Sunday, it was tempting to wonder: how much worse would things be if Manly didn't have Jake and Tom Trbojevic?
The brothers have repeatedly been among their team's best this year, win, lose or draw. It was a trend they carried through their efforts with the NSW Blues where both were in player of the series reckoning and they've continued that post-Origin despite their club's struggles.
Jake did his best to shore up the Manly middle against the Roosters with 42 tackles (and just two missed) plus 126 metres while Tom was arguably the best of a beaten side with a team-high 168 metres, seven busts, three line breaks, one try, one try assist and one try save.
Asked about the mental challenge of producing his best for a struggling side following the enormous high of an Origin series win, Tom Trbojevic did not agree he had produced anything like his best at club level.
"Personally I don't think I've performed well enough for Manly this year and that's one of the many reasons why we're sitting so low on the table," was Trbojevic's blunt assessment.
"I guess over these last six weeks to come I've got to try and find my form and put my best foot forward to win some footy games for this club."
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Told he was arguably a rare shining light for the club against the Roosters, he again wouldn't have a bar of it.
"I think we're sitting in 13th at the moment so there's no real shining lights there," he said.
"Everyone here plays this footy game to make finals and be successful and you can't be successful in 13th and I definitely wouldn't call myself a shining light – but thank you to the people that do I guess!"
The loss and hit to their differential places Manly precariously close to wooden spoon territory, just a win in front of the struggling Cowboys, Bulldogs and Eels.
Trbojevic said the club shouldn't need additional motivation after what they dished up on Sunday.
"We want to be a successful club and the fact is we haven't been one this year. We want to win more footy games and obviously avoid that spoon," he said.
"We haven't been good enough this year, simple as that and that shows with where we're standing on the ladder.
"It's been pretty hard looking back at [Sunday], for myself it's pretty embarrassing to be on the end of a score-line like that and the ease to how they were scoring their tries. Especially at home on Old Boys' Day, very disappointing to put in a performance like that."
Jake Trbojevic said the club's upset away victory over Penrith in round 16 should at least give them the confidence they can bounce back at home on Saturday.
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"We played Penrith a couple of weeks ago and played really well then played Storm and played some good footy, probably unlucky to lose that one [going down 14-13]," Jake said.
"After a performance like that you're disappointed and it dents your pride a bit, you want to come out and fix it.
"We're both coming off pretty bad losses [with Penrith's heavy defeat to Brisbane], they're going to come out hard and we have to come out hard too.
"I just hope we can put some good performances in going into next year."
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