SOMEHOW Manly skipper Jamie Lyon cracked a smile at the Sydney Football Stadium on Monday morning to challenge his depleted team to overcome the odds against the Dragons in week one of the finals, 18 hours after the Sea Eagles’ season lay in tatters.
Manly skipper Jamie Lyon was in a better mood on Monday, just 18 hours after the Sea Eagles were almost knocked out of the NRL.
Manly limped into the NRL top eight after the Rabbitohs failed to beat the Dragons at Kogarah on Sunday night.
Manly actually wasted their own chance to ratify their place in the finals with an ordinary 30-24 defeat against the Bulldogs two hours earlier at Brookvale Oval on Sunday afternoon.
The ramifications of that game have hurt the Sea Eagles, with centre Steve Matai and prop Jason King facing a combined 10-week ban ahead of Sunday’s opening finals clash against the Dragons at Kogarah.
At the annual captains’ call of all eight finalists on Monday, Lyon said his squad can rise above the heavy odds and topple the minor premiers.
“We are capable of beating anyone on our day,” he said.
“They are expected to win and I’d say their odds would be very short. It’s just about all 17 of our players playing their best and hopefully that’s what we can do.
“‘It’s going to be one of the biggest games we can play in and we are pumped to get out there.”
Lyon said watching the Dragons knock out the Rabbitohs on Sunday night was a relief.
“It was pretty nerve-wracking watching the game, but we got the right result,” he said.
“Obviously it (missing out) was in the back of our minds, but we’ve got an opportunity there now, hopefully we’ll get out there and play our best game of the season.”
Which would mean a repeat of Manly’s magnificent round-nine 24-6 win over the Dragons.
Manly fullback Ben Farrar said Sunday was a chance for the squad to stand up.
“It’s going to be a test of how committed we are to each other and how committed we are to the club,” he said.
“It’s going to be an opportunity to put our hands up and have a crack at it. It’s backs against the wall now and we are going to be judged on how we respond to all this.”
Dragons captain Ben Hornby said the Sea Eagles deserve respect despite their terrible state.
“At the end of the day, they will put out 17 players who have the ability to do the job,” he said.
“They know how to win, they have played in two of the last three grand finals and won one, you’ve got to respect a side like that. They will be ready to go.”