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Manu a mano: Joey will be 'trying to dominate' Crichton

Roosters star Joey Manu relishes the "challenge of trying to dominate" opposing centres and he's particularly keen for Friday's showdown with Penrith's Stephen Crichton.

After being forced to rest last week while his side copped a 60-8 pasting by the Rabbitohs, he is itching to return for an already sold-out clash against the minor premiers at Panthers Stadium.

And the prospect of taking on Crichton, the 20-year-old Dally M Rookie of the Year contender who has scored 15 tries and become a key part of Penrith's left edge, appeals to Manu's competitive nature.

While he was quick to point out he is absolutely focused on "what's best for the team", the incumbent New Zealand Test centre spoke of his desire to outpoint his counterpart.

"I'm really excited - I love those centre battles, so it should be a good one. He's a good player," Manu said.

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"In my head, I sort of like to say that [there's a one-on-one contest] to myself. I think in the centres position, you get good battles against your opposite numbers.

"So for myself, I look forward to coming up against good centres. I love that challenge of trying to dominate them and trying to get better. It's a 13-man game at the same time, so you've got to take your challenge but then you've got to do your role."

The pair didn't directly lock horns when the Panthers beat the Roosters 20-14 in round one because Crichton came off the bench at fullback, scoring a try almost as soon as he was injected.

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Elsewhere, Manu said it was "very tough" to watch the defeat to South Sydney and he was hurting badly despite not being on the field.

The Roosters also lost to the Rabbitohs in the final round of last year's regular season before beating them in the first week of the finals en route to securing back-to-back premierships.

"It'd be nice if that [pattern] happens again, but we can't really rely on anything else that's happened," Manu said. 

Some pundits claimed the Roosters simply can't recover from such a devastating loss and clinch a third successive title.

And bookies are also doubting the Tricolours, making them $2 outsiders to stop Penrith from achieving 16 straight wins.

But Manu certainly isn't dwelling on his side being somewhat of an underdog for the first time in a while.

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"I haven't really looked into it much. I haven't really heard anything. I believe in myself and in the team," he said.

"I think there's still high belief around the club and I feel like when we're at our best we're hard to stop too.

"We've just got to take it day-by-day and prepare well and work on the things we need to work on."

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Penrith's left edge of Josh Mansour, Crichton and barnstorming second-rower Viliame Kikau have been potent, but Manu is confident the Roosters can keep them contained.

"I think we've got to work on what we're good at. I felt like our defence, when we were rolling, was pretty good," he said.

"If we can just get back to how we normally defend - that's what we'll be working on this week - I'm pretty sure we'll be firing for Friday."