Perennial premiership contenders Manly will only get better, star five-eighth Kieran Foran has warned after the Sea Eagles climbed to the top of the NRL ladder at the halfway mark of the season.
The Sea Eagles have battled the absence of key players through injury in the first half of the season, including Foran, Daly Cherry-Evans, Jamie Lyon, Jason King and Brett and Glenn Stewart.
But Friday’s impressive 32-10 defeat of the table-topping Bulldogs, with King and Glenn Stewart absent and Cherry-Evans sidelined for virtually the entire second half, pulled the Sea Eagles up to equal top spot and once again reaffirmed their premiership credentials.
“It’s nice to be sitting up there, but we are probably aware we have been a bit inconsistent, we haven’t played our best footy week-in week-out,” Foran said.
“There has been glimpses of it and that is what has kept us in it and kept us at the top but we know we need to go up another notch after the bye and take our game to a new level in the back half of the year.
“It only gets harder and faster and stronger as it gets closer to the top four, top eight finishes.
“It is nice to be sitting where we are but there is still a lot of work to do.”
Manly are well on track to qualify for the finals for an incredible 10th successive season this year and Foran said the club’s depth puts them in good stead.
“We have been pretty unlucky with injuries the first half of the year,” he said.
“We haven’t been able to keep our strongest 17 on the paddock two weeks in a row, so it’s nice to be able to rely on the depth we have got at the club and bring blokes in and still win the tough matches which is what we have been doing so far this year.”
After losing Richie Fa’aoso, Joe Galuvao, George Rose and Brent Kite ahead of the 2014 season, Manly were thought to be vulnerable up front.
But they outplayed the Dogs’ monster pack to prove they can match it with the best in the NRL.
“We had complete faith in the squad we had at the start of the year and the forwards are just going from strength to strength,” Foran said
“The more first grade time they get, the more games they play, the better they are getting and they are aiming up to some of the best forward packs in the comp.”