Coach David Heath has one clear directive for his young Sea Eagles tomorrow – to be themselves.
Manly Warringah face North Queensland Cowboys at a sold out AAMI Park, Melbourne, in the second Holden Cup Preliminary Final on Saturday.
The winner will play the winner of the first Preliminary Final tonight between Penrith and the Warriors in the grand final at ANZ Stadium on Sunday, October 4.
The message from Heath is simple.
“I want us to play how we play. Not to be put off by anything, not to be put off by the occasion or not to be put off by the other team,’’ Heath stated.
“We want to be able to come off and say that’s us at our best. That’s what every coach wants.
“I definitely want them to enjoy it but it is about focus. When we have played well this year, we have had a lot of focus on what we do and when we do things well, we control the game.”
The Sea Eagles advanced to week three of the finals following a tough 28-22 win over Wests Tigers at Allianz Stadium last Friday night. Heath’s men raced to an early 16-0 lead before allowing the Tigers to hit back to lead 18-16 at half-time.
“We got off to a very good start and then we fell asleep at the end of the first half,’’ Heath said.
“I felt the way we started put us off the hard work (we did), so we had to refocus at half-time on how hard we wanted to work for one another.
“That’s exactly what we went out and did. Ultimately, the Tigers scored one late (in the second half) but other than that, they didn’t cross our line and in a semi-final, that’s outstanding.”
Heath knows his team must be switched on for the full 80 minutes against the Cowboys – a side they fell twice to in the regular season.
“The Cowboys deserve to be the favourites. They finished second and could have finished first,’’ Heath added.
“We are not going to approach the game like that though. We are going into it with a lot of confidence.”
Kick-off is 5pm Saturday and the match will be shown live on Fox Sports.
Footnote: The club will provide live score updates and coverage on the game through our Twitter and Facebook accounts. Join us.