It is the pack everyone is talking about and the feats of the Cronulla Sharks forwards have not been lost on the Sea Eagles.
Manly heads to Southern Cross Group Stadium on Saturday night to tackle the in-form Sharks, a side searching for their eighth straight win of the season – their last loss being against the Sea Eagles at Brookvale Oval in round three.
Prop Josh Starling, who returns to the team this week after some impressive form in the Intrust Super Premiership, said the Sharks pack have been outstanding this year.
“You can tell by their latest performances. They are just going from strength to strength. They are getting their combinations right and it is going to be a big job for us this week,’’ Starling said.
“They have got some big boys who are skilful as well. You never know what they are going to do. If they are going to dig it in or run some plays which is hard. And that is why there are going so well.
“A lot of teams are holding off and seeing what they are going to do, so we really need to get up there and match them.”
Second-rower Jamie Buhrer said the Sharks were a great team. Buhrer turned in a strong game for Manly in the Intrust Super Premiership last Sunday in his first game back from a broken thumb.
“Their forward pack is going to be a real challenge for us. We have got to look within to fix our problems at the moment and we have got to lift as a team,’’ Buhrer said.
“You have to have confidence in everyone to do that and there is no better way to do that then this weekend against a big Sharks team.”
Full-back Tom Trbojevic says the team needs to prepare well for the Sharks.
“They have been one of the best packs this year and it is why they have won their last seven games,’’ he said.
“We are going to have to do our best and go to Shark Park and try and rectify their impact.
“They are a very physical team. We are going to miss Marty (Taupau) through suspension. He is a big enforcer and a big part of our team. We have got other players who will come in and do the job for us.”
Second-rower Lewis Brown said the Sharks would take plenty of positives in keeping the Newcastle Knights scoreless in their 62-0 win last weekend.
“They are certainly the real deal at the moment,” Brown said
“It’s a long season and they’ll be saying that themselves. But they will be taking a lot of confidence out of the weekend.
“To have nil in that column where they didn’t let any tries in, they will be pleased with that,”
Manly v Cronulla record
Head to Head:
Played 87: Manly 62, Cronulla 23, drawn 2.
At Cronulla’s home ground
Played 35, Manly 20, Cronulla 15.
Past 8 clashes
2016: Manly d Cronulla 22-12, Brookvale Oval
2015: Manly d Cronulla 14-12, Remondis Stadium, Manly d Cronulla 28-16, Brookvale Oval.
2014: Manly d Cronulla 26-0, Remondis Stadium; Manly d Cronulla 24-4, Brookvale Oval.
2013: Manly d Cronulla 24-18, Allianz Stadium; Manly d Cronulla 25-18, Brookvale Oval.
2012: Cronulla d Manly 17-14, Toyota Stadium.