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Manly forwards proving it to themselves

NZN 5/04/2017 Scott Bailey

Beware the NRL misfits with something to prove.

Three weeks ago Manly's 17 were beaten from pillar to post. The coach was under fire and the front office in disarray.

And as for the forward pack? Apparently befitting their reputation as NRL rejects rather than recruitment geniuses.

How quickly things can change.

"After a long pre-season it was disappointing to lose those first two games," prop Brenton Lawrence said.

Fast forward three weeks and they're preparing for the most unlikely of second-against-fifth matches of the early season against St George Illawarra.

And they're doing it off the back of a forward pack who answer to no-one.

They outlasted North Queensland in Townsville, belted Canterbury at home and then over-powered one of the best in the competition in the Sydney Roosters.

And with who?

Lawrence - the 32-year-old with a bad back? Nate Myles - who admitted his own form was "shithouse" last year.

How about Martin Taupau and Addin Fonua-Blake who were both suspended for shoulder charges in round one? Or Curtis Sironen, spat out of the struggling Wests Tigers before arriving at Brookvale.

At least his last start was in the 13-man game.

Frank Winterstein was a virtual unknown from rugby sevens and is now a 30-year-old starting back-rower after joining late last season.

Jake Trbojevic is just about the only player who had positives written about him in the pre-season. And even he is still pushing hard for his first NSW State of Origin jersey.

"People will question us," Lawrence said.

"You can't help that. They've got their opinions and that's fine. I think that's what makes up a team. Everyone is their own character."

And it's proving effective.

Their workman-like approach helped them maintain the second-tightest defensive line in the competition, despite being forced to make the most tackles in their own 20-metre zone.

As a team they've also made the equal-least errors as they've fought their way to three straight wins.

"Everyone has something to prove," Lawrence said.

"Not because they need to prove something but because they want to prove something to us."

They'll be further hardened by the return of prop Darcy Lussick this weekend.

After injuring his wrist in the off-season, Lussick has spent the past two months restricted in his training and he expects it to benefit his game.

"I've done a lot of running so hopefully my fitness is up to scratch," he said.

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