Friday night football promises to deliver a thrilling contest as Des' high flying Dogs take on Toovey's men of steel in arguably the match of the round at Brookvale Oval.
Who could forget the last time these two sides met? Former Sea Eagles halfback Trent Hodkinson booted a penalty goal in extra time to leave Manly shattered after Josh Reynolds was controversially awarded a penalty for what many experts labeled as a dive.
There has been no love lost between these two famous clubs since Halser’s exit from Manly to Canterbury in 2012. The two sides have collided five times since his departure, with Hasler holding a slightly better record, having won three of the five matches against his former club.
His Dogs, who are the competition’s frontrunners after 12 rounds, are fresh off the bye and welcome back their Origin stars on Friday night. Although they’ve lost their attacking x-factor in Ben Barba to the Broncos this season, Canterbury have shown that they are a side moulded from sheer grit and solidarity.
Their forwards know their role and their halves, who are still on a high after guiding the Blues to victory in Origin One, are the epitome of the Canterbury Club – hard working, tough as teak and simply hate losing.
But while the Bulldogs sit in first place, the Sea Eagles are also well placed in third position without causing much damage in 2014.
It’s a scary prospect – Manly, who haven’t put a complete 80-minute performance together this season; sit inside the top four with plenty of room for improvement.
Despite ordinary performances in their most recent fixtures against Newcastle and Brisbane, Toovey will have no trouble getting his boys up for Friday night’s top-four clash.
A dominant win could see Manly leapfrog the Dogs into first, but a loss could see them drop out of the top four.
Toovey has named Daly Cherry-Evans and Anthony Watmough to return this Friday night at Brookvale, while the Dogs welcome back three of their Origin stars in Reynolds, Hodkinson and Tony Williams.