NRL Latemail: Manly may rest stars

Manly may be quietly ready to rest several stars tonight as they face the desperate Cronulla Sharks in a match where the Eagles are unbackable favourites to win.

While Manly may be up against a 21 year hoodoo in which they haven’t won at Shark Park; this time around its different – with the high flying Eagles sitting comfortably in 2nd spot on the NRL table and the Cronulla Sharks fielding a side only their mums would believe could win.

The Sharks are dealing with an injury and suspension crisis with; Adam Dykes, Brett Kimmorley, Paul Gallen, Greg Bird, Ben Ross, Anthony Watts and Misi Taulapapa all missing. Apparently Ricky Stuart will bring Luke Covell back tonight as captain (a week earlier than expected) due to the crisis.

Mail coming out of the Manly Sea Eagles camp suggests they may rest several stars in tonights match. Coach Des Hasler hinting that Matt Orford, Steve Bell, Jamie Lyon and Anthony Watmough are in doubt due to niggling injuries.

It makes sense for Manly; as the Eagles are comfortably in second spot and are at no risk of losing second spot on the table by the conclusion of the NRL 2007 regular season. They have a tricky run of games ahead, but simply no other side near them has enough consistency to trouble the Eagles on the ladder.

It certainly adds an another element of intrigue to the already hoodoo riddled match. Cronulla are fighting for their 2007 NRL finals lives. The Sharks have to win at least all of their remaining games to have a chance of Top 8 NRL football – so they’ll throw everything at whatever team the Eagles send out.

While Cronulla may breathe easy should the Eagles rest their stars; spare a thought for punters and tipsters who have already locked their tips in – neither job gets any easier as the NRL slips into total unpredictability on the back of plenty of injuries to star players.

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