Manly have proven they’re singing from the same songsheet at least on the field with a 22-12 win over the Warriors in Auckland.
Geoff Toovey’s Sea Eagles stand united, at least on the field.
That much was clear after they secured a hard-fought 22-12 win over the Warriors in Auckland on Sunday night.
With their third consecutive victory, Manly pushed four points ahead of the second-placed Panthers and are firmly on track for their first minor premiership since 1997.
But the third-year Sea Eagles coach insisted the club is also making progress off the field, playing down reports of player unrest in recent weeks.
Toovey dismissed reports stars Brett Stewart, Steve Matai, Anthony Watmough and Daly Cherry-Evans are seeking a way out of the club as mere “speculation”.
“It happens at all clubs,” he said.
“These sorts of things happen with contracts but we’re getting on with things and we’re sorting things out.
“Let’s not believe that those problems are as big as they are reported in the media.”
The Sea Eagles held the Warriors scoreless for 72 minutes of the match after conceding an early try while winger Peta Hiku grabbed two four-pointers to hand the Warriors a rare loss at home this season.
Cherry-Evans was all class, guiding his side around with deft kicking while his distribution fired their right-edge attack where Hiku constantly beat Warriors strike weapon Manu Vatuvei to the punch.
The Queensland playmaker also scored his side’s final try and denied the Warriors another with a desperate tackle to help push the Warriors out of the top eight on points differential.
“They’re professional players in the sense that they know their trade, they love their football and they put 100 per cent in every time they play,” Toovey said.
“They’re a great team and that’s the way we’ve been playing over the last couple of weeks.”
Manly will now prepare to host Brisbane next weekend while the Warriors face a difficult trip to Canberra where they have not won since 2001.
Warriors coach Andrew McFadden said injured stars Shaun Johnson (groin) and Feleti Mateo (calf) are a good chance of making the journey after being ruled out of Sunday’s match.
He also rued a number of “missed chances” as his side were denied two tries – to Ben Henry and Vatuvei – which would have earned them the lead in the second half.
The first-year coach also insisted the challenge of bouncing back from their first back-to-back losses since April, and their poor record in Australia’s capital, was not impossible.
“I think we’re a bit more resilient to that sort of talk now,” said McFadden.
“We know what we have to work on to play well so we’ll focus on that this week.”