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The Sea Eagles and Storm go toe-to-toe in 2011.

When teams line up for a clash with a traditional foe, players often try to play down the rivalry by saying the past has no impact on the future.

But skipper Daly Cherry-Evans admits Manly's history of heated contests with Melbourne will be a factor when they lock horns at Lottoland on Sunday.

DCE was in his rookie season in 2011 when the infamous "Donnybrookvale" game produced plenty of on-field fireworks, including a sideline brawl between Glenn Stewart and Adam Blair which led to several players getting involved.

Sunday's match is the ninth edition of their clashes at Lottoland since that night and Cherry-Evans said the lingering tension between the clubs will always have its part to play whenever they meet.

The Storm arrive with two key members of their back five from last year's minor premiership-winning squad – centres Curtis Scott and Will Chambers – no longer at the club while "bull at a gate" utility forward Brandon Smith has been sidelined with a facial fracture.

"We won't be under-estimating them this weekend. We have a lot of respect for their team, their coach and every single one of their players," Cherry-Evans said.

Rookie half Daly Cherry-Evans plays some footy during the Battle of Brookvale.
Rookie half Daly Cherry-Evans plays some footy during the Battle of Brookvale. ©NRL Photos

The rivalry stands in Melbourne's favour with 20 wins, 15 losses and two draws. They both took a premiership off each other as well in 2007 and 2008 although Melbourne's victory in the first grand final was later stripped due to multiple salary cap breaches.

"I enjoy playing the best teams and they are always one of the best teams," Cherry-Evans said.

"Past experiences definitely play a role. You just can't forget about grand finals and one of the biggest blues in footy history at Lottoland all those years ago.

"There's a lot there and while some of the players are no longer there, we all watch footy and we know the history.

"To be honest the fans want to see a rivalry as well. We have a role as entertainers – someone has to be the villain and some get to be the heroes."

Manly prop Martin Taupau doesn't want to tap into the hate theme too much.

"There's not a rivalry mentality for me. They are very competitive; we are very competitive," he said.

"We all want to do the best to win. I know there's a lot of history with Melbourne and Manly but we just want to start off the year with a great win."

Sea Eagles coach Des Hasler named forwards Addin Fonua-Blake and Jake Trbojevic although the pair have reportedly done minimal contact work after off-season shoulder operations.

If they are late withdrawals, Taupau points to another rising star in the maroon-and-white ranks.

Sea Eagles v Storm - Round 1

"We've got some other young players coming through – Sean Keppie has been outstanding," Taupau said.

"He is developing into a really strong player."

Keppie was an Australian Schoolboys representative in 2016 alongside the likes of Nick Cotric, Blayke Brailey, Campbell Graham and Zac Lomax.

He joined Manly from the Eels under-20s side in 2019 and played three NRL games at season's end.

"We train with each other every day and we're all going hard at it. I'm learning off three of the best forwards in the game," Keppie told referring to Taupau, Fonua-Blake and Trbojevic.

"And I have them running at me at training. So it’s good to know they can rely on me as they see how I operate every day. I rely on them as well."

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National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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