Manly half-back Daly Cherry-Evans has boldly predicted the Sea Eagles are perfectly placed to claim back-to-back premierships.
Despite a horror run of injuries throughout their title defence, Geoff Toovey's side are still running fifth, just four points back from ladder-leaders Melbourne with eight rounds remaining.
With the exception of Brett Stewart (hamstring) and his brother Glenn who is in doubt for Saturday's clash against Newcastle with a knee injury, the Sea Eagles are nearing full strength at the right end of the season.
And Cherry-Evans admits his team-mates are already daring to dream of consecutive NRL titles.
"There is a quiet confidence amongst the boys that we know, barring injuries and suspension, that our squad is strong enough to go and possibly claim back-to-back titles this year," Cherry-Evans said on Thursday.
Reminded that no first-grade side has defended their crown in a unified competition since Brisbane in 1993, a confident Cherry-Evans said: "It is something that's stood there for a long time and no-one's gone close to it so what better time than now to try and change some of those records."
The second-year half-back made a similar claim at the season launch in March but says his belief is even stronger after 18 rounds.
"The position (fifth) we're in, we're very lucky considering the injuries and suspensions we've had this year, so providing we get a bit of luck in the back-end of this year we're on track to where we need to be," Cherry-Evans said.
Manly winger David 'Wolfman' Williams was slightly more circumspect when asked to rate his side's chances of repeating.
"There are a lot of good teams shining at the right end of the season and we've still got a lot of work to do," Williams warned.
"We're nowhere near getting our act together consistently, let alone looking at that at the moment.
"Mind the cliche but it's going to be week to week for us before we even look that far ahead."
Williams was coy when asked if he expects Glenn Stewart to return from a knee injury against the Knights, however Cherry-Evans revealed: "We're not 100 percent sure but we're definitely hopeful."
Meanwhile, the off-contract Williams says he'd love to remain at the club next season and beyond but is unsure how his contract talks are progressing.
"You'd have to ask my manager mate, and the club," Williams said.
"They're sorting it out. I'm just running around like a headless chook.
"I'd love to stay, I think everyone wants to stay here, it's a great culture and all the boys are great.
"Everyone wants to stay but the way the sport's going it's not permitted for everyone (due to the salary cap)."
SEA Eagles halfback Daly Cherry-Evans believes more strongly than he did at the start of the year that Manly can defy the odds and win a second consecutive grand final in 2012.
The last team to achieve the honour was the Broncos way back in 1992-93, which illustrates how difficult the task has become.
"It is something that has stood for a long time and no one has gone close it - what better time than now to try and change some of those records," Cherry-Evans said during a gym session at Narrabeen yesterday.
"There is a quiet confidence amongst the boys that we know, barring injuries and suspensions, our squad is strong enough to possibly claim back-to-back titles this year.
Cherry-Evans said the Sea Eagles were lucky to be in the position they are after the injuries and suspensions that have hit them.
"I think we are on track where we need to be," he said.
Cherry-Evans said it had been frustrating that the team had been unable to put a full-strength side on the paddock this season after that combination of factors.
"There is nothing much you can do about it, it's just one of those things that happen in rugby league," he said.
"But I think when the time comes and hopefully that's finals time, we will have our best side on the field."
Cherry-Evans hopes to lift his own game as the finals approach.
"I've had a pretty quiet year - I'm always working on my game and hopefully I can play some better footy in the back half of the year," he said.
The club will give Glenn Stewart until kick-off to prove his fitness for tomorrow's game against Newcastle at Hunter Stadium.
He was named in the side after being sidelined with a knee injury suffered against the Storm at Brookvale on June 18.
Cherry-Evans said Stewart was missed in the NSW Origin side and he was even more valuable to the Manly team.
Jon Geddes The Manly Daily