Manly fullback Brett Stewart is set to overcome an ankle injury and play in Friday’s NRL qualifying final against Souths after training strongly.
Manly star Brett Stewart is set to play in Friday’s NRL qualifying final against South Sydney after training strongly at the club’s Narrabeen base on Wednesday.
Stewart was a late withdrawal from Manly’s final round loss to North Queensland in Townsville on Saturday due to an ankle injury, but was showing no ill effects as he trained alongside teammates ahead of Friday’s finals opener at Allianz Stadium.
The superstar fullback was put through a number of drills that tested out his ankle and was later fully involved in opposed play as the media were shooed away.
Sea Eagles winger Jorge Taufua said he was looking forward to reuniting with Stewart against Souths.
“He is extremely important for us, he is the polish on all our backline moves,” Taufua said.
“It is great to have him back, he is a crucial part of what we do and I know he is really keen to get out there on Friday night.”
In a further boost to the Sea Eagles’ chances prop Brenton Lawrence declared himself ready to take on the Rabbitohs after overcoming a knee complaint that has ruled him out of the last two games.
“The knee is fine, it is not going to hold me back at all,” Lawrence said.
“It’s finals now, I am excited and I’m certainly looking forward to this game.
“The Bunnies are a great side but we are confident about what we can do.”
Manly’s player of the year Kieran Foran said Lawrence’s return was vital against the big Souths pack, with forwards Glenn Stewart (ankle), Jamie Buhrer (knee) and Matt Ballin (leg) all sidelined with injury.
“He is a huge part of the side, he has been a really valuable member of our forward pack,” Foran said.
“He adds experience there and good go forward, he has a really good work ethic.
“We have missed him the last couple of games, so it will be great to have him back.”
The Bunnies’ forwards rolled over the top of their Manly counterparts in their 23-4 win at the SCG in round 22.
But Manly got the better of Souths in round two at Gosford 14-12, when Jason King got under the skin of Sam Burgess.
“That SCG game was not an indication of our season, it is not an indication of our team,” Lawrence said.
“It was one game in a pretty good season for our team and after 26 rounds I think we are sitting in a good spot, we are excited, I’m certainly looking forward to this game.”