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Manly fullback Tom Trbojevic.

Manly forward Jake Trbojevic will put aside his respect for Bulldogs coach Trent Barrett on Sunday with a "no mercy" mentality as he eyes a top-four finish for the first time in his career.

Canterbury's last-place finish in 2021 was confirmed on Saturday after their 22-16 loss to Newcastle with Barrett's first season in charge at Belmore a nightmare start for the former Sea Eagles coach.

The Bulldogs' next task doesn't get any easier with a rematch against a Manly outfit who pummelled Barrett's side 66-0 in round 16 and are expected to welcome back Tom Trbojevic from injury.

Barrett coached the Sea Eagles on 73 occasions between 2016-2018 and despite a 39.7 percent success rate he has been credited with bringing through the likes of the Trbojevic brothers.

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"He was our coach here for a while and we've got a good relationship," Trbojevic said on Monday.

"He's a good man and I know he's working extremely hard and will keep doing that.

"I'm sure they'll keep improving under him. He's a great coach and they'll be fine under him, he's a good guy [but] we both want to win and that's like every game."

Bulldogs captain Josh Jackson, reflecting on the record-breaking defeat in July, said the side will need to improve their edge defence or they'll suffer a similiar result.

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"It was a tough one. Conceding 66 points is really poor, it was obviously our worst performance of the year," Jackson said.

"It's [about] trying to pull some positives out of the games we've played but just focusing on your preparation for the next week and making sure you do everything you possibly can to put yourself in a better spot to win the next game.

"But obviously having Tom Trbojevic back this week is a massive threat for them, so we're going to have to do our best with him.

"[We'll need to] limit their go-forward through the middle of the field with [Martin] Taupau there and Jake Trbojevic. They do a really good job from there."

The Sea Eagles are locked in a three-way battle with the Roosters and Eels for fourth spot on the Telstra Premiership ladder but have a smoother run home than their opponents on paper.

They'll meet the Cowboys in the final round while the Roosters (South Sydney and Canberra) and Eels (Melbourne and Penrith) face much tougher opposition in the next two weeks.

"We've got to keep playing well. I just don't want to focus on it," Trbojevic said.

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"I want us to keep improving and getting better combinations and hopefully fine-tune a few things.

"It [top four finish] would be nice but we're trying not to focus on it.

"We've got two games ahead. You want to put in two performances and win both, that's obviously the goal, but whatever happens, happens."

Trbojevic said his younger brother Tom was a strong chance of returning to the field from a minor cheekbone complaint that left him out of the side's tight win over Canberra.

With the Dally M Medal race nearing a close, Tom will likely need to return to the paddock in the next fortnight to stay in medal contention with Nathan Cleary's return in recent weeks considered a big threat. 

Jake believed Tom was an outside chance of claiming the medal regardless of the next fortnight's performances.

"He's missed a lot of footy this year so will be tough for him to win it," he said.

DCE. Ball. String.

"He just wants to put in good performances for Manly, that's his goal and those sort of awards don't motivate or worry you.

"He's probably missed too much to win it so he'll keep working hard for Manly and play well for us."

Meanwhile, Sea Eagles forward Marty Taupau said the side's self-belief was "beyond measure" to anything he's experienced before at the club as they aim for their best finish to a season since 2014.

"The feeling is amazing, whether we have our little wins here or there, on training paddock or off the field," he said.

"We're all appreciating everyone's time. It's really infectious here and it's been translating on the field."

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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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