Manly coach Des Hasler remains optimistic that star fullback Tom Trbojevic will play in the final two rounds after missing 12 weeks with a hamstring injury.
The Sea Eagles have struggled without Trbojevic this season, winning just two games in his absence to slump to 12th position with three rounds remaining before the finals.
Hasler is holding hope that his gun fullback will face the Gold Coast and the Warriors in the last two regular season rounds.
“We are working towards that and there is a chance of it happening,” Hasler said.
“He is on track, so we are hopeful.”
Ben Trbojevic won’t make his NRL debut against Canterbury on Friday night despite being named on an extended bench. Photo: Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images.Source:Getty Images
Hasler has named the youngest Trbojevic – Ben – on an extended bench for Friday’s clash against Canterbury.
However, he said the Mona Vale Raiders junior won’t make his NRL debut versus the Bulldogs.
“At this stage, no,” he said.
“We had a couple of early injuries. We lost Jorge Taufua with a ruptured achilles and young Josh Schuster who made his debut did a syndesmosis, so they have both been operated on early in the week.
“We should be okay, so it will be just the experience and training this week has been good for him (Ben).”
Manly have been rattled by a host of injuries this season, including big names Trbojevic, Dylan Walker and Joel Thompson.
Hasler would like to see the NRL look at the reasons behind this season’s record injury toll.
“Maybe it is something that the competition committee can look it,” he said.
“I think it has been an unusual year and injuries have been unprecedented.”
Hasler also believes the NRL’s strict biosecurity rules for players, in terms of being in a bubble and having social restrictions, has played a role.
“I think part of the reason on a greater stage is NSW and the way the government has gone about controlling COVID has been really strict,” he said.
Hear the final word from Des Hasler ahead of tomorrow's clash against the @NRL_Bulldogs at @ANZStadium 🎤https://t.co/fF6GNb1dez#ManlyForever #NRLBulldogsManly pic.twitter.com/PUCtkboOvh
“And that is even doubly so for NRL players and clubs.
“I think we can be extremely proud of the way the clubs, players and officials have reacted.”
Manly can’t make the finals, but Hasler wants to see his side make a statement in the last three rounds.
“We want to finish well,” he said.
“There is always something to play for when you turn up, so it is important that we finish off the season well for some momentum building.
“Players take great pride in their performance and that is critical, as well as the club they are representing and the numerous fans that follow them and turn up to support and cheer them on.”
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