|Toovey's spray has Eagles soaring|
|Written by James Hooper The Sunday Telegraph|
|Sunday, 19 August 2012 09:26|
MANLY players have been referring to the spray Geoff Toovey delivered in Newcastle a month ago as his best impersonation of Des Hasler.
Toovey might have stopped short of ripping the dressing room door off its hinges, but his message to the premiers after they were upstaged by the Knights in round 19 carried similar venom.
Whatever Toovey said, it worked. The Sea Eagles are back looking every inch the reigning NRL champions, timing their run to perfection leading into September.
As a fully-fit Manly prepare to host Newcastle at Brookvale Oval today, the Sea Eagles can all but book a top-four finish with a win.
"I wasn't there (last time) because I was out injured with my hamstring, but I did get mail off a few blokes that it was one of his better sprays," Sea Eagles fullback Brett Stewart said.
"You know if Tooves blows up it's probably needed. When he raises his voice, you know it's for a reason."
Go through the Sea Eagles line-up and it's difficult to find a weakness.
And it's no coincidence the return of the Stewart brothers, Brett and Glenn, over the past fortnight has resulted in the Manly machine looking as menacing as ever.
Consider these statistics. Since Manly won the competition in 2008, they have won 42 of a possible 55 games for a 76.4 per cent success rate when both Stewarts play.
Without them, the Sea Eagles have managed only three wins from nine games for a 33 per cent winning ratio.
As fullback Stewart prepares to try to add to his remarkable record of 62 tries from 67 games at the Sea Eagles' Brookvale home, he argues that it is their defence that has other NRL teams talking them up.
"We've rolled into a bit of form with three wins away from home and defence has probably been the key the last few weeks," Stewart said.
"Obviously, if we can continue that then I think our form should keep improving.
"Apart from Round 1, this is the only time we've fielded our full strength side."
And what a side it is. Jamie Lyon on fire. Tony Williams is short of his best but not far off. Glenn Stewart is the Clive Churchill Medallist. The list just goes on and on.
If the Sea Eagles beat the Knights today, it will be the first time they have won four on the trot this season.
And with another game at Brookvale next Friday against Broncos, followed by the Titans away in round 26, the premiers could roll into the finals on a six-game streak.
Win today and the secret is out. Manly are no longer under the radar.