Sea Eagles' feathers not ruffled over injury toll

Manly will have possibly seven regular first-graders missing from the side that takes on a near full-strength Cronulla outfit in Saturday's elimination final.

The list of definite outs is five – Martin Taupau (suspension), Taniela Paseka (knee), Curtis Sironen (foot), Tom Trbojevic (pectoral) and Joel Thompson (forearm). Question marks are hovering over centre Brad Parker (head knock), second-rower Jack Gosiewski (knee) and prop Morgan Boyle (shoulder).

"I might have to play front row this week as we're down a few," said Parker.  "I hope the boys can recover well this week and we get back a few for the weekend."

Parker is hoping to be among them. He left Bankwest Stadium dazed and bleeding from a head wound after a collision with Eels prop Kane Evans in the 32-16 loss last Friday night.

"I got to see the doctor today. I've still got to do some tests, a bit of cardio, and a few other protocols throughout the week," the local junior said, to prove his fitness in his first NRL final.

"I actually feel fine. I woke up Saturday feeling good, knew what I was doing, where I was. I feel good now."

Spirits are high with the Sea Eagles making their first finals appearance since 2017 – but that campaign only lasted one game due to a 12-point loss to the Panthers.

The high injury toll is causing many to think Manly might be a one-game-wonder again.

"Over the years we've always found some energy in having your backs against the wall and no one thinking you can win," said lock Jake Trbojevic.

"I think it's really exciting time for the club. We're back in the semi-finals and we haven't been there for a couple of years.

"You've always got self-belief. It's a proud club and we're proud individuals. If everyone is writing you off it does give you motivation."

But no one is dodging the realisation of the task at hand. The Sharks have one player under an injury cloud with fullback Matt Moylan trying to overcome a hamstring problem although they will also be missing winger Ronaldo Mulitalo, after he took the early plea for a shoulder charge against Wests Tigers half Luke Brooks.

"We do have a lot of injuries – it seems to be one of the things that has been our downfall this season with a few big names out injured," said Brendan Elliot, who has filled in at fullback, centre and wing.

"It has been quite hard but in saying that we've got great depth here and everyone is putting in at training," Elliot said.

"Everyone is really focused this year. We're all heading in the same direction. We all want the same outcome, same end goal, and that's ultimately to win a premiership."

Parker, who missed seven games mid-season with a fractured jaw, said Manly had still proved to be a top-four side with some against-the-grain wins like the Warriors in Christchurch, Storm in Melbourne, Cowboys in Townsville, Knights in Newcastle, Raiders in Canberra and the Sharks in the Sutherland Shire.

"It definitely hurts to be down on so many troops, but we've been down a few players a couple of times this year and won," he said.

"So we need to look back at those and see where we went well, and hopefully pull it out again this week."