It will be a habit that they will want to shake, as the Manly Sea Eagles have now lost to three of the bottom sides in the NRL – following their disappointing performance in the 22-4 loss to Penrith, at Centrebet Stadium today.
With all the talk surrounding the surprising demotion of Panthers star Luke Lewis as captain (though it is not a permanent move) – it was the Panthers who came away with two points, playing a convincing game of footy against the reigning premiers.
“I respect Luke an incredible amount – not just as a player but as a person and a captain – but this Origin period is a long, tough one,” Cleary said.
“Our boys are away for three games and we’re a team that needs some leadership growth.
“He actually hasn’t been replaced. It’s hard when your focus is on Origin all the time. I’m just trying to ease that burden.
“He just got on with the job. He understands the situation.”
Cleary also pointed out that although his side is still at the bottom rungs of the ladder, that they have improved, and was pleased with the direction his side was in.
“We’re still at the wrong end of proceedings in terms of the table but we’re starting to play better,” he said.
“We should get a fair bit of confidence out of today.”
The same could not be said for Manly however, with Geoff Toovey at a loss for words, as to why his side played so badly – made worst by the fact that centre Steve Matai was placed on report for a high tackle.
“We’ve been beaten by three of the bottom teams and convincingly beaten,” Toovey said.
“That’s not our ability – it’s how we prepared for the game and our attitude and application on game day.”
Their cause was also not helped, when second-rower Anthony Watmough had to leave the field (he later returned), after re-injuring his neck, the same injury he picked up before the first Origin game.
“I just got a bit of whiplash and the nerve got caught,” Watmough said.
“Until it settles down and you get a bit of feeling back in the arm it’s not too good.
“It came good and I got back out there for the second half so it’s just one of those things that with a couple of days off it settles down.
“It’s just one of those things we play with week in week out.
“You don’t really get any rest. In saying that the staff have been really good on the short turn around last time so I’ve got no doubt it will come good for Friday night.”