Addin Fonua-Blake is ready to embrace the challenge of stepping up in Martin Taupau’s absence if the Manly prop is ruled out of their clash with Canberra next weekend.
The Sea Eagles will wait on Taupau’s recovery from a dislocated left thumb, after they initially thought he would miss two games with the injury.
Centre Moses Suli will miss the clash however, after undergoing surgery on a fractured finger on Friday that is set to sideline him for up to three weeks.
But if Taupau does miss out, Fonua-Blake has shown he is more than ready to step up.
The Tongan powerhouse ran for 203 metres at an average of more than 10 metres a carry in Thursday night’s 20-18 win over the Broncos.
In his only other match without Taupau starting alongside him in the past two years, Fonua-Blake churned out 186 metres in last year’s finals win over Cronulla.
“I’m never one to shy away from a challenge,” the 24-year-old said.
“I love playing behind Marty a lot. It does hurt losing him … but I can’t wait for the challenges ahead. I will try and step up the best I can.
“But I have another four or five middles in there that will be able to step up and share the workload with me.”
Taupau’s potential absence would hurt the Sea Eagles but there will regardless be a heavyweight clash between Fonua-Blake and Josh Papalii.
Papalii has arguably been the hardest middle in the NRL to tackle over the past 18 months, averaging three busts per game this year.
Meanwhile Manly have proven they have no issue coping in the absence of their big names, after playing parts of last year without Tom Trbojevic and Daly Cherry-Evans.
Curtis Sironen could return from a knee injury against the Raiders, adding some experience back to their edge while Jorge Taufua will not return from a quad complaint until round seven.
Brendan Elliot shapes as the logical replacement for Suli in the centres.
“One thing we did really well last year was whoever got a game due to injury or suspension, they played at a high level of football that we need to be competitive,” Cherry-Evans said.
“So we’ll have someone else get an opportunity to get a bit more game time and the responsibility falls on them to hold up their end of the bargain.
“Addin was huge (against Brisbane). We all know how he’s grown as a footy player and a front rower, he’s a big part of our side.
“Whenever he’s called upon to play big minutes he always produces for us. I’m glad he’s on my team.”