Manly have hit out at critics, arguing they’re not being given due respect as they sit on the edge of the NRL top four at the season halfway mark.
Trent Barrett’s Sea Eagles have been the surprise packets of the 2017 season to sit in sixth after 13 rounds with a handful of wins potentially enough to lock up a return to the finals.
Slated as bottom four contenders before a ball had been kicked this year, they could be in the top four with a win over Newcastle on Friday if other results run their way.
Two points against the last-placed Knights and next week’s bye will see them rise to 20 points, just eight points shy of the 28-point mark which has traditionally been the top eight cut-off.
Despite their success, Manly centre Dylan Walker said they still weren’t being given proper credit and many were expecting them to fall in a heap at some point.
“I think everyone’s still waiting for us to fail,” Walker said.
“Everyone seems to keep writing us off.
“It’s a bit of us flying under the radar and people not giving us the credit we deserve.
“That just shows the resilience of the boys and the coaching staff. We’re going to keep on turning up. People can think or say whatever they want.”
Under Barrett, halfback Daly Cherry-Evans has rediscovered his best form, winger Akuila Uate has found a second lease on life and Jake and Tom Trbojevic have gone to a new level.
Even their no-frills forwards such as Frank Winterstein, Curtis Sironen and Brenton Lawrence have held their own against the best in the competition.
And this is while $1 million in salary cap space is being tied up in injured stars Brett Stewart and Steve Matai.
Skipper Cherry-Evans said few were acknowledging the fact they were plying their trade with a severe disadvantage this year.
“I think that’s something that has gone very unnoticed,” Cherry-Evans said.
“What the coaching staff have been able to do to put us in a position to be a finals contending side, with those restraints around our salary cap, it’s a bloody big effort and it’s a credit to where this club is moving.”