The Broncos have a big point to prove to themselves and their fans after last week's hiding from the Rabbitohs.
Maybe all the pre-season talk about them being title contenders was way off and they just aren't good enough.
It always seems obvious in hindsight, but perhaps this team is simply too young and green to succeed in the NRL on a weekly basis.
The bottom line is there's a lot of questions which the Broncos have yet to answer.
Manly continue to show their top eight aspirations have to be taken seriously and will like their chances on Friday night, despite being on Brisbane's home turf.
Sea Eagles: In a series of changes made 60 minutes before kick-off, Abbas Miski (No.18) will start on the wing, Curtis Sironen (No.12) at five-eighth and Apisai Koroisau (No.6) at hooker. Jack Gosiewski goes from the bench into the starting side and Manase Fainu drops back to the bench. Jorge Taufua and Cade Cust were the two players left out 60 minutes before game time. Zach Dockar-Clay and Taniela Paseka were omitted 24 hours before kick-off. Manly have won five of their past six games.
Broncos: Anthony Seibold has made all his team changes earlier in the week with no Andrew McCullough (knee), James Roberts or Jamayne Isaako (both dropped) for the clash. That was confirmed an hour before kick-off when Isaako and Cory Paix were the two players omitted. Jaydn Su'a and Sean O'Sullivan dropped off the extended bench 24 hours before kick-off. Brisbane have scored 24 points or more in their past six games against Manly.
Darius Boyd needs a big bounce-back performance after struggling through his 300th NRL game last week. If the Broncos are going to turn their season around Boyd has to hold his form from week to week and his clash with Manly fullback Brendan Elliot is a good opportunity to get the ball rolling.
For the Sea Eagles to win
Des Hasler is making a compelling case for Coach of the Year honours. If he can keep the Sea Eagles on this path and continue to overcome injuries and other obstacles, he's as good a chance as anybody. Manly have to stick to the processes that have worked for them thus far and exploit any signs of weakness from the wildly inconsistent Broncos.
For the Broncos to win
It's technically a home game for Manly but that shouldn't bother the Broncos. They might take a few weeks to adjust to the departure of Kodi Nikorima to the Warriors but really don't the luxury to take their time after such a poor start to the season. They have to put last week's nightmare behind them and build a game based on defence and working for each other.
Brett Kimmorley says
Dessie has the Eagles flying – he is such a great defensive coach. Manly don’t make many poor decisions or leak many poor defensive tries. Manly’s big pack of forward will want to take the more highly-talented Brisbane pack apart. Brisbane need to start winning – you can have all the talent in the world but if you aren’t willing to fight tooth and nail you aren’t going to win many games. Their season is nearly all over. Broncos by 2
Corey Oates is equal first in the NRL in line breaks (8), while Broncos teammate Jack Bird is third in tackle breaks (44). Anthony Milford is the runaway leader in kick metres (3,574) and hooker Andrew McCullough is second (386) among the top tacklers. Brisbane have more ineffective tackles than any team (157).
And another thing ...
The inconsistent Sea Eagles side that lost their first two games in 2019 didn't look much different to the version that finished 2018. But something happened in their 46-12 rout of the Warriors in round three and they haven't looked back, despite losing Origin stars Tom Trbojevic and Daly Cherry-Evans to injuries. A lot of diehard Manly fans reckon it's simply the Hasler factor and it's hard to argue. The Sea Eagles play with the same competitive spirit that Hasler displayed during a 16-year playing career.