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Manly playmaker Lachlan Croker.

Manly prop Toff Sipley lives next door to Lachlan Croker and says he's a great neighbour. He's not so bad in the halves on a football field either.

"A lot of it is built off the back of his fitness," Sipley told NRL.com, ahead of the Sea Eagles's clash with the Bulldogs at Lottoland on Saturday.

"I'd say he is the fittest at our club based on the testings we do. He has a great attribute of always being around the ball.

"You saw those two tries he got [against the Raiders] and they came from his push-up support and being in the right place at the right time. Those two crucial tackles at the end showed how gritty he is."

Croker, who hadn't played in the NRL for 12 months due to a knee reconstruction, took over the Sea Eagles reins when halfback Daly Cherry-Evans injured his right ankle.

Along with his two tries he made a try-saving tackle on opposite half Sam Williams five metres out from the Manly line and then jumped out quickly to put Jack Wighton on his back in the final minute of play with the Raiders down by just four points 24-20. That ended up being the full-time score.

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Croker played just eight games last season for the Sea Eagles before disaster struck.

"He's a great player. And from my point of view he is really tough," said back-rower Jack Gosiewski.

"I remember a couple of games last year when he split his head open, got it bandaged, and kept on playing. You've got to be tough to be one of the better halves and he is.

"He's obviously got good ball skills but his toughness stands out for me.

"He's a great under-pressure player and because he's not played footy for awhile he brings a lot of energy for us."

Fullback Brendan Elliot, who himself is in the Manly spine due to Tom Trbojevic's hamstring injury, said the team was right behind the new halves combination of Croker at No.6 and Kane Elgey at No.7.

"I've got big raps on both of them. I played with Kane last year at the Titans and he's a great mate. I'm enjoying playing with Crokes too because he has shown what he can do," Elliot said.

"If they are the starting pair this weekend they have all my faith.

"Everyone is alright but we're shattered for Chez with things like Origin but we're confident we can still do the job while he's out."

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A journeyman somewhat with four clubs already to his name, Elliot also played with Nick Meaney at the Knights and will oppose him on Saturday.

"I've watched a fair bit of his game time at the Bulldogs and he's going really well. I'm very happy for him. He's a great young kid and a talented fullback as well."

Sipley said the mood had been upbeat at Manly despite Cherry-Evans news that he would be missing between four to six weeks.

"We had a good pre-season where a lot of boys trained in different positions so we were prepared for this," Sipley said.

"It will be a bit hard but we saw a few boys step up already last week, and you'll get to see some of our other leaders here take on that role this week.

"I can't go past Jake's effort leading us around last week. I wish I had some of those Trbojevic genes."