Manly Sea Eagles facing rare NRL losing streak
It's been nearly a decade since Manly last lost three consecutive matches at Brookvale Oval, and that record has the Sea Eagles ready to fight for their turf this Saturday.
Back-to-back losses to South Sydney and Sydney Roosters in the past month have Manly on the verge of losing three on the trot at Brookvale for the first time since July 2005 when the Sea Eagles went down 26-24 in the last minute to North Queensland.
The only survivor from that Manly outfit who will face Canberra on Saturday is veteran forward Brent Kite - though Jason King and Brett Stewart will miss the match through injury.
But it's a losing streak none of the squad are ready to revisit.
"We pride ourselves on winning every game at Brookie and knowing that stat (that we've lost two in a row) we'll have to come out all guns blazing and really take back our home turf," winger David Williams said.
Jamie Buhrer, whose NRL debut was still five years away when Manly last lost three-in-a-row at Brookvale, said the team was determined to rebuild the fortress.
"Brookie is our fortress, it's a place where we love to play and we pride ourselves on making it an atmosphere that you don't want to come and play in," he said.
"And the last two games there we have played some good footy but we haven't come away with the win so we'll be looking to rectify that."
The fatigued Sea Eagles will take on Canberra on a short turnaround following Monday night's 90 minute draw with defending premiers Melbourne, where they made an NRL record 419 tackles.
But Buhrer does not believe the club's incredible defensive workload, brought on by a combination of errors, penalties and refusal to concede a try, will takes its toll as the season drags out.
"We can (keep it up) but we wouldn't like to have to do it all the time," Buhrer said.
"(Coach Geoff Toovey) has said a number of times throughout the year he doesn't know why we do it to ourselves constantly and hopefully I think we'll begin to rectify that over the coming weeks. And we're going to have to.
"But at this stage we're feeling fine, we're doing the recovery during the week just like any team who has to go through a tough game of footy.
"Our defence is what we pride ourselves on and we won't be resting on it."
The match also presents Canberra centre Blake Ferguson with his last opportunity to impress NSW selectors before the squad for State of Origin one is picked on Sunday.
Manly centre Steve Matai said he could see why the 23-year-old was being considered for a Blues call-up, and said he would prove a handful on Saturday.
"He's a tall athletic centre, he's got quick feet and he's running some good holes so I don't see why he wouldn't be up for (Origin) selection," Matai said.
Matai is in some doubt with a hamstring injury, but is expected to play.