Manly has joined Cronulla in having the build-up to their NRL clash with the New Zealand Warriors being disrupted by Australia's drugs-in-sport investigation - and the Sea Eagles will be hoping for a similar side effect in Gosford on Sunday.
The Sharks successfully set aside the distractions associated with the Australian Sports Anti-Doping probe when recording their fourth successive victory over the Warriors last Sunday, a defeat that slowed one of the competition's form team's advance to the top eight.
Now the team that denied the Warriors a maiden premiership in 2011 have place the 10th-placed Warriors' prospects on making this season's finals series in more jeopardy at Bluetongue Stadium.
Safely ensconced in third, Manly surrendered 'home' advantage at the intimidating Brookvale Oval in order to farewell veterans Brent Kite and Joe Galuvao at the club's headquarters in the final round against Penrith on September 8.
Despite moving the fixture to the NSW Central Coast, the Sea Eagles still appear to be travelling well although their current winning sequence does not include an opponent likely to make the post-season.
Manly has racked up 198 points in their last five games against Parramatta (twice), Wests Tigers, North Queensland and the Gold Coast Titans but should find the Warriors a tougher proposition despite their potentially damaging 18-14 loss at Mt Smart.
Like the Sharks, Manly is embroiled in the peptide scandal blighting the AFL and NFL - star second rower Anthony Watmough and fullback Brett Stewart among 30 players to be interviewed by ASADA officials.
Former utility back Dean Whare, the incumbent Kiwis centre now at Penrith, is also expected to be grilled in the lead-up to next weekend's trip to Auckland.
Manly head coach Geoff Toovey is also being summoned to an interview in relation to controversial sports scientist Stephen Danks' association with the club.
Outwardly it has been business as usual at the Sea Eagles coaching base at Narrabeen this week and Toovey added an element of continuity by naming the same 17-man squad that swamped Parramatta 40-6 on Saturday night.
The Warriors recovered from an early 12-point deficit to win 18-16 when the teams last met in Auckland on June 9, and will be hoping to display similar fortitude before they host Penrith in round 23.
Manly Sea Eagles: Brett Stewart, Jorge Taufua, Jamie Lyon (captain), Steve Matai, David Williams, Kieran Foran, Daly Cherry-Evans, Brenton Lawrence, Matt Ballin, Brent Kite, Anthony Watmough, Justin Horo, Glenn Stewart. Interchange: Richie Fa'aoso, Jamie Buhrer, David Gower, George Rose.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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