Team Edit: (Update AEST 12.30pm 29/04/2017) Manly coach Trent Barrett has confirmed on Friday that Brett Stewart and Tom Trbojevic will both miss due to injuries. Koroisai is yet to prove his fitness and may also sit out.
The ever consistent Cowboys will be banking on experience when they take on the challenge of one of the toughest away games in Rugby League; the Sea Eagles at Brookvale.
The Sea Eagles have found some form with Daly Cherry-Evans back in the side guiding them around the park. However the young Qld protege has a test ahead if he is to match it with JT.
At any time in the past couple of years a punter would probably have reason to believe the Cowboys should get home comfortably, however the Sea Eagles have some elements to throw into the mix that should even out the contest.
The Sea Eagles
Element 1 - The Brookvale advantage. Over the last decade Brookvale has been a fortress for Manly, there is something about the ground, the supporters and the atmosphere that makes it a very tough ground for away teams to win at. For some reason, at home Manly lift, and coming up against he best team in the competition, lift they will.
Element 2 - The retirement of Jamie Lyon. One of Rugby Leagues best ever centres announced this week that 2016 will be his last year. And there is no doubt Manly will want to send him out in style. Whether or not Manly have the list and the depth to go all the way is debatable (and probably doubtful). However they are a gritty team and their ability to get in the scrap and tussle makes them a dangerous prospect as a playing group.
Element 1 - Consistency. They have fielded close to the same 17 players for nearly 18 months now and there is something to be said for been able to field a united team with one goal in mind. The players are so comfortable with each other they are almost reading each others minds.
Element 2 - Michael Morgan's test selection. The No 6. has shot himself into the Australian side and he will be keen to show Mal Meaning exactly why it is he was picked for the Trans- Tasman test. He is almost taking a lead role in the Cowboys halves at the moment saving Thurston from having to bear so much of the burden.
The Sea Eagles have a lot going for them in this clash, however they are taking the field with an injured Fullback and an injured Winger (Stewart and Trbojevic). Stewart is so critical to the Manly structures particularly in defense, my fear is that if he is playing injured or isn't cleared by Saturday, things could get ugly for Manly.
Even though Brookvale is a fortress I still think the Cowboys will be too strong in a tight game, and the last time the Cowboys travelled to Brookvale they got away with the win (Round 19, 2015).
Saturday should see the Cowboys get home by 8. If Stewart is still injured or doesn't play Cowboys by 16.
The North Queensland Cowboys take on the Manly Waringah Sea Eagles, Saturday April 30. Check your local guides for coverage.
Manly: 1. Stewart 2. Williame 3. Lyon 4. Matai 5. Trbojevic T. 6. Walker 7. Cherry-Evans 8. Lussick 9. Koroisau 10. Myles 11. Symonds 12. Taupau 13. Trbojevic J. Interchange: Brown, Fonua-Blake, Lawrence, Vave
Nth Queensland: 1. Coote 2. Feldt 3. O'Neill 4. Linnett 5. Winterstein 6. Morgan 7. Thurston 8. Scott 9. Granville 10. Tamou 11. Cooper 12. Lowe 13. Taumalolo Interchange: Kostjasyn, Kaufusi, Bolton, Hannant.