Wednesday, 4 July 2012
It's a scary prospect for every rival NRL club - premiers Manly are at full strength for the first time since the opening round of the season.
While Glenn Stewart remains in doubt for Sunday's game against Parramatta with a knee injury, Manly coach Geoff Toovey had the luxury of naming his first-string line-up following a season plagued by injury and suspension.
And with the NRL season entering its crucial post-State of Origin phase this weekend, Toovey said Manly were ready to ramp up their title defence.
"You hope that there's a bit of luck on our side and they all come good at the end of the year after the run we had at the beginning of the year," Toovey said.
"The training staff are doing their best to get them on the field all at the one time and I think, once we do that, we'll be a force to be reckoned with.
"With all the dramas we've had in regards to suspension and injury, the players that have filled in and played this year have done a great job."
But Toovey will be relieved that he no longer has to rely on fill-ins.
His back-row in particular of Stewart, Tony Williams and Anthony Watmough are slated to play together for the first time since the first-round win over the Warriors in which Stewart broke his thumb.
Two games later, Williams was suspended for seven matches for a dangerous throw.
Stewart, who tried in vain to overcome a medial ligament strain in time for Wednesday night's Origin decider, is still no certainty to play.
"If he's fit, he will (play) but we won't be able to assess him until he gets back in town which I think is Thursday, so we'll make a decision then," Toovey said.
"There's no use jumping at shadows until we have the medical staff look at him and have a chat to him."
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