Manly started their short-term Turbo-less run with a commanding win over the Knights as stand-in fullback Reuben Garrick again deputised admirably but the man himself has backed rookie speedster Tolu Koula to shine in his second run-on NRL start.
Manly's reliance on star fullback Tom Trbojevic has eased somewhat since their horror start to 2021, with Garrick winning three of his past four games there.
"I think our defence got us off to a good start on the weekend (against the Knights) and it's definitely a platform to work off in coming weeks," Garrick told NRL.com.
"[Fullback] is something I've had to work hard at here at training. When people go down, here at Manly we pride ourselves on stepping up and taking hold of that moment. It's my job I've been entrusted in and hopefully I can do the best job I can for my team."
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His efforts drew praise from senior playmaker Kieran Foran.
"He was really impressive, Rubes," Foran said.
"He's filled in there a number of times last season and he's just a really handy option for if Tommy does go down but I thought Rubes was great. He did his job and a little bit more. He's a great communicator which is what you need."
Coach Des Hasler has helped the team overall to adapt its game plan to better handle the games Trbojevic misses, he added.
"We're a year on and probably evolved our game more than what we had last season," Foran continued
"When we lost Tommy we were probably a bit one-dimensional. I do feel like this season we've been able to add different parts and adapt a bit better when Tommy has gone down for a few weeks we can hopefully fill that hole."
Utility forward Karl Lawton also praised Garrick's efforts against the Knights.
"It's easy to point the finger when Turbo's not here but Reuben does a great job for us," Lawton said.
"He's an absolute workhorse out the back. Every time I looked back he was taking a carry and he was always there, everywhere he's got to be. He's an absolute athlete, a real good winger and a real good fullback."
Meanwhile young gun Koula got a couple of minutes off the bench in round one before deputising for centre Brad Parker's COVID layoff in round four and was named as Turbo's replacement in round five before pulling out with a minor calf issue.
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Garrick wasn't giving away whether he was likely to have played fullback in round five had Koula been fit, or whether the rookie would actually have had first crack, but backed the 19-year-old to succeed this week – whether at his named spot of centre or in a game-day switch to the back.
"We didn't really know - Des keeps his cards as close to his chest with you guys as he does to us!" Garrick laughed.
"The way it worked out, I'm sure Tolu would have done an awesome job back there as well. Everyone in the team has faith in both him and myself. Whatever Des chose, everyone was happy with and we get on with the job. That's the kind of culture we're trying to build here."