Des Hasler has warned his Manly side another prolonged slow start won’t fly against competition heavyweights Canberra on Sunday.
The Sea Eagles have scored tries in the opening quarter of matches just twice this year, and have fallen behind 18-0 and 18-2 in their last two games.
In both matches – against Brisbane and Parramatta – they have come home with a wet sail, beating the Broncos and controversially going down to the Eels.
And while Hasler accepts that there are periods that are going to go against his team, he’s told them they must regain the momentum quicker against a strong Canberra side.
“A slow start is probably the wrong way. It’s maybe an excuse,” Hasler said.
“It’s about identifying parts of the game where it might slow, and getting out of it. And getting it back on an even keel.
“All sides are going to absorb those parts of the game and we’ve just got to respond better and this side is capable of doing that.
“We need to put together 80 minutes against this side.”
Manly will go into the match without Martin Taupau as he battles a thumb injury, with Addin Fonua-Blake vowing to step up in his absence.
With Taupau off injured last week, his front-row partner ran 231 metres with several powerful charges against the Broncos in the biggest yardage haul of his career.
“He performs week in, week out,” Hasler said.
“More than 150 metres is very important and he does it so well.”
Meanwhile, Hasler is wary of finding a way to shut down Raiders half George Williams in his first game against Manly.
While Jack Wighton is arguably the form five-eighth of the competition, Williams has had a hand in five tries in the three games since the competition’s restart.
“You don’t know what he (Williams) is going to come up with,” Hasler said.
“He certainly plays a game that is really unstructured and suited. He is tough and quick.
“He’s got a really astute kicking game and he runs. Both halves, he and Jack Wighton, really complement each other.”
STATS THAT MATTER:
* Three of Manly’s five games this year have been decided by three points or less.
* Manly’s right-edge defence is the best in the NRL conceding just four tries this year, but they must stop Jack Wighton on Canberra’s left.
* Canberra have conceded just six points four times this year. Last year they only held teams to single digits just three times all year.
(Stats: Fox Sports)