Trent Hodkinson says the fact he's the only Manly half to spend time outside Daly Cherry-Evans during the 2019 trials doesn't mean he's the front runner heading into round one.
Hodkinson played in both the Sea Eagles trials - against the Sharks and then the Roosters.
His rival for the No.6 starting spot is Manly new recruit Kane Elgey. He also played in both trials but only Hodkinson had 40 minutes with Cherry-Evans, when they were used together for the opening half against Cronulla.
The 30-year-old Cabramatta Two Blues junior doesn't think that has given him the upper hand in the race for the season opener against the Wests Tigers at Leichhardt Oval.
"Of course it's good for me but at training, we're all alongside each other anyway," Hodkinson said outside the Central Coast Stadium sheds after Manly scored a 38-20 win over the reigning premiers.
None of Trent Robinson's grand final-winning Roosters side took the field in Gosford.
Match Highlights: Roosters v Sea Eagles
With Roosters halves Cooper Cronk and Luke Keary safely resting, the intrigue turned to the Sea Eagles and how coach Des Hasler will shape the engine room of his attack.
Both Hodkinson and Elgey controlled the game well in tandem. A selection of fine attacking kicks and passes were on display.
Des will make the final decision for the team and we're all about the teamManly veteran Trent Hodkinson
"That's a natural part of halves games anyway so you expect that," Hasler said.
So perhaps the decision for Hasler will come down to who defends better?
"Both boys have a lot of first-grade experience – they know what's required; they know what they need to do to execute; they know what's needed defensively.
"It's not as if they're rookies in that area," Hasler said.
Hodkinson says there's no restless nights' wondering if he will be the starting No.6.
"Not at all. Obviously, Des will make the final decision for the team and we're all about the team. We'll have to wait and see."
Hodkinson also enjoyed a 100 per cent strike rate in his six kicks at goal across both trials. His reliability to add the two points might give him another advantage, although Cherry-Evans is a capable goal kicker as well.
"We'll have a chat about it; have a few kicks and go from there," Hodkinson said.
"I keep referring to what's best for the team and I'm sure we'll make a decision based on that."
The thing that's uppermost in his mind is stability – both in his health and career.
He had three clubs in the past 15 months: released early by the Knights to join the Sharks at the start of 2018 and then released by the Sharks mid-season to join the Sea Eagles.
It was Manly that gave him his NRL debut in 2010 so he is back with Hasler and head physio Don Singe to help him keep his body in check.
"I feel really good at the moment. I'm not going to dwell on the past – it is what it is," Hodkinson said.
"I'm in a good program – I've been under Des and the training staff before. They know how to work me so everything feels really good. That helps and I can focus on footy.
"It's good times. And its good everyone got through okay today."
After Manly lost three players to injury from the Sharks trial, everyone received a clean bill of health following the meeting with the Roosters.