Not for the first time, the Sea Eagles defied the critics in 2013, rubbishing claims of an ageing roster by charging into the grand final.
It’s been a trend in recent years. Experts have put the red pen through their finals credentials, claiming that they were simply too old and lacked depth.
But as the expert’s voices grow louder, so do Manly Warringah’s premiership credentials, according to fullback Brett Stewart.
“I enjoy it actually,” Stewart said. “They’ll probably write us off again this year and say we’re too old. I think this team thrives off that stuff.”
The Sea Eagles said farewell to a number of experienced front rowers at the end of last season, one being former fan favourite George Rose, who will come up against his old club in his first appearance for the Storm.
If his first game in Sea Eagles colours nine seasons agao is any indication, Stewart believes the big forward will enjoy his return to Brookvale.
“I remember when he faced up against the Roosters when he left their club, he grew an arm and a leg so we’re expecting the same thing against us,” Stewart said.
It’s been a gruelling pre-season for the men in maroon and white as they prepare for their bid to improve on last year’s grand final loss at the hands of the Roosters.
The intense training has the fullback feeling fresh and ready for round and he believes his injury worries are a thing of the past.
“It’s probably the best pre-season I’ve had under my belt for a couple of years now, so I’m going into the season pretty confident,” Stewart said.
“I played 40 minutes in both trials so I’m quietly confident. My hamstring seems to be fully healed and my knees are pretty good as well, which was probably the main injury.”