THE Sea Eagles are set to adopt the blueprint from the Queensland Maroons playbook to try and nullify barnstorming prop Andrew Fifita in Sunday’s showdown with the Sharks at Southern Cross Group Stadium.
While Fifita was the dominant player for NSW in this season‘s opening State of Origin clash, a change in tactics by Queensland for game two on Wednesday allowed them to keep him far quieter by smothering him with defenders.
Asked if Manly could take anything out of the way the Maroons handled Fifita, Sea Eagles prop Brenton Lawrence replied: “Yes absolutely, you’d be silly not to.
“He’s the sort of player that if you give him room to move he will expose you.
“But it’s hard to play that style of football if you’ve got nowhere to go.”
And facing this kind of test is something that the consistent Lawrence thrives on.
“He’s the eight, I’m the eight- it’s something that you do from schoolboy footy,” he said.
“You compare yourself to the opposition number — and this week is the same.”
But Lawrence also said that Manly cannot afford to put all their attention into stopping the Sharks’ star.
“Fifita is not our only concern, I think it’s a danger to get caught up in one player
“You point him out, but I don’t think you work your defensive plan around one player or focus around one player.
“They are a great side and have a lot of threats across the team.”
And another of those is the Cronulla warrior Paul Gallen.
“He doesn’t seem to slow up, he gets through the work and he is just an effective player,” Lawrence said.
“I don’t think that he can ever be taken lightly.”
And Lawrence has no doubts his Sea Eagles cam match it upfront with the defending premiers.
“I’ve got no massive concerns about their pack, if everyone is on we are up there with the best,” he said.