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Attack us at your peril, warns Watmough

Manly firebrand Anthony Watmough has warned Cronulla they'll be playing into the 2011 NRL premiers' hands if they try to beat the battered and bruised Sea Eagles physically on Friday night.
Attack us at your peril, warns Watmough
by AAP

By Ian McCullough and Steve Jancetic

SYDNEY, Sept 19 AAP - Manly firebrand Anthony Watmough has warned Cronulla they'll be playing into the 2011 NRL premiers' hands if they try to beat the battered and bruised Sea Eagles physically on Friday night.

Cronulla, led by NSW forwards Paul Gallen, Andrew Fifita and stand-in five-eighth Luke Lewis, are expected to bring an aggressive mindset into the do-or-die qualifying final at Allianz Stadium.

Injured Cronulla five-eighth Todd Carney (hamstring) wants his team to take Manly on up the middle - which they are certain to with Lewis playing second-receiver.

But Watmough says, despite playing in one of the most physical NRL encounters in years against the Sydney Roosters last Saturday, that's exactly what the Sea Eagles want.

"They play a power game and they are probably just going to try and run over the top of us," Watmough said.

"We love playing that type of footy too. It will be a good clash like the Roosters one."

Carney said the move to play Lewis at No.6 in his absence would work to the Sharks advantage in a slugfest, giving coach Shane Flanagan an extra big body in the middle of the park.

"You've got to play Manly up the middle, because that's the way they play all year," Carney said.

"They'll just steamroll you. It will give us an extra number with Lewie playing at six, but we're still going to have to move the ball - you can't just score points through their middle."

The Sea Eagles have spent most of the week recovering from their punishing 4-0 loss to the Roosters - a game dual international Sonny Bill Williams described as the toughest he's been involved in.

Coach Geoff Toovey says all of his players have pulled up well from the game and knows Cronulla pose a serious threat to his side, who are playing in their ninth successive finals series.

"There are a few bumps and bruises, but everyone who played on Saturday will be fit to take the field," Toovey said.

"Cronulla are a quality side. They recently knocked off the Roosters.

"It will be another brutal game and it will take a hell of a lot out of both teams to win."

Toovey has named fullback Brett Stewart in his side and will make a decision to start the representative star, who is recovering from a hamstring injury, close to kick-off at Allianz Stadium.

Carney is undergoing intensive physiotherapy in a bid to prove his fitness but is resigned to missing the Sharks' biggest game since their 2008 preliminary final defeat to Melbourne.

Toovey quipped this week that Stewart and Carney had been texting lies to one another after in emerged the pair had been in contact, but the former Roosters and Canberra playmaker fully expects his close friend to feature.

"I think he'll play - it's do or die. He's had a few weeks now so I assume he'll play," Carney said.

Watmough claims the absence of Carney would be a huge advantage for Toovey's men, with the one-time NSW pivot providing the bulk of Cronulla's spark in attack.

"He does all their attack and everything comes off him," Watmough said.

"He's got a great kicking game and a great running game. People have played games when they weren't supposed to in the past so we'll prepare for him just in case.

"If he's not there it'll be a bonus for us."




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