DCE urges teammates to stay grounded as title talk ramps up

One win and many people in the rugby league world have tagged Manly the new grand final favourites.

Skipper Daly Cherry-Evans has moved swiftly to corral that type of talk from his teammates after their 11-10 golden point win over competition leaders Storm last weekend.

"I actually addressed the players just then about it – about not listening to the external noise," Cherry-Evans said on Tuesday.

"That kind of stuff can quite quickly derail teams. It can distract individuals and it can take away from what you're trying to achieve.

"Looking too far ahead is never a good thing in rugby league. You have to focus for the task in hand each week."

This week it is a down and desperate Knights at ninth on the ladder and not wanting to let their finals chance slip by.

The Sea Eagles are desperate to avoid a situation where they sink the Storm in Melbourne and then lose at home to Newcastle.

"We're well aware of what's going on outside of these four walls. So you address it, you're aware of it, and then you focus back in on what's important and that's Newcastle this weekend," Cherry-Evans said.

Prop Martin Taupau believes the wins over the Rabbitohs, Raiders and Sharks earlier in the season proved fifth-placed Manly's top-eight credentials. 

"We're smart enough to understand that it's not just the one game that will determine your season," he said.

"We've won a lot of games against big teams so we know how not to get ahead of ourselves."

Taupau has only played one finals game for Manly since he joined in 2016 – the 2017 qualifying final loss to Penrith.

"It's exciting considering where we were on the ladder this time last year (13th).

"But round one or a finals game is not going to make a difference to me. I've played pretty big games in my career before so I'm pretty good with managing the pressure and expectations."

Still, a premiership would put some extra icing on an already stellar career for Taupau.

He played his 150th NRL game last weekend, and represented two countries - New Zealand, Samoa - at Test level.

"It would be awesome to top it off with a premiership. But you can't have your cake sometimes and eat it too," Taupau said.

"Look at Hindy [Nathan Hindmarsh] with 300 games with the one club and he didn't win a premiership, but he has so much respect from everyone."

Taupau, Cherry-Evans and the rest of the Sea Eagles band are certainly turning heads that they can shake the cages of premiership favourites Storm, Roosters and Rabbitohs.

Already the good folk of the northern peninsula are stopping players in the street telling them so.  

"You've got to enjoy it. You've got to take that for what it means – a community behind its team," Cherry-Evans said.

"So that's fantastic to see and something I never want this team or this club to stop enjoying.

"Once you acknowledge it, you put it in the back of your head and move on to the job that's at hand."

For Cherry-Evans that could be interpreted as wanting to settle his halves partner before the finals start. He has played with Kane Elgey, Lachlan Croker, Cade Cust and Dylan Walker.

"It would be nice to have the same combination but that shows the flexibility we have within our roster," he said.

"When needed we can change the style and we can change the personnel to suit the structure or the opposition. The coaches will always make the right decision and as halfback I will back that."