Written by Oliver Kellner-Dunk
This Friday night Manly Warringah Sea Eagles take on the Sydney Roosters in the second week of the 2021 NRL finals series.
Manly are coming off of a shock demolition at the hands of the Melbourne Storm, who have advanced straight to the Preliminary Final as they seek back to back premierships for the first time in club history.
A huge talking point coming out of that game was how easily the Storm was able to contain Manly’s marquee man Tom Trbojevic who until this point seemed unstoppable.
Sydney will be looking to replicate what Melbourne was able to do to the 24-year-old following their close win against the Gold Coast Titans last Saturday evening, where a late Sam Walker field goal proved the difference-maker.
The Roosters are already coming into this game as underdogs and have had the odds stacked against them even more as hooker Sam Verrills has been suspended for two games due to a grade two careless high tackle charge and Tongan International captain Sio Siua Taukeiaho has been sidelined with a calf injury.
— Sydney Roosters 🐓 (@sydneyroosters) September 15, 2021
Ben Marschke has been named to replace Verrills at hooker, although the Roosters may decide to make a late change and move five-eighth Lachlan Lam to hooker, which would mean Sam Walker moves into the starting lineup, or even move Adam Keighran to hooker with Dale Copley being called into the centres.
Isaac Liu has been named to start at prop for the injured Taukeiaho, with Nat Butcher returning from a knee injury as the perfect time to start off of the bench.
Manly have also made a change to their squad from last week’s loss to the Storm, as they welcome back Lachlan Croker who was a late exclusion from last Friday’s game due to lower back tightness.
He comes straight back into the starting lineup at hooker, pushing Karl Lawton to the bench and St Helens bound Curtis Sironen to the reserves.
The cards will certainly be stacked against the Roosters as they head into this must-win game for these rivals with the two sides very familiar with each other when it comes to finals Rugby League, having faced each other in multiple finals games and the 1972 and 2013 Grand Finals.