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Manly still on hunt for prop replacement

Manly are confident they can still find an eleventh-hour replacement for Richie Fa'aoso before the NRL season starts in a fortnight's time.
Manly still on hunt for prop replacement
by AAP

By Ben Horne

SYDNEY, Feb 20 AAP - Manly are confident they can still find an eleventh-hour replacement for Richie Fa'aoso before the NRL season starts in a fortnight's time.

The Sea Eagles front row stocks have been decimated in the off-season, with Fa'aoso's unexpected retirement due to an ongoing neck problem the tipping point.

Props Brent Kite, Joe Galuvao, George Rose and David Gower have all departed the peninsula, but Manly were confident of getting by until Fa'aoso's bad news was delivered a couple of weeks ago.

The Sea Eagles are hoping veteran Jason King can overcome two and a half years of injury problems to partner outstanding prospect Brenton Lawrence up front.

But coach Geoff Toovey has confirmed the club are hunting for a last-minute addition to their squad.

"We're working hard to look for the right person. It's difficult at the eleventh hour before the season," he said.

"It's been a blow losing Richie Fa'aoso so late in the pre-season, so that's always going to be difficult replacing someone of his calibre.

"But we're pretty confident we'll find the right person to fill the spot."

Experienced representative campaigner Luke O'Donnell was an excellent late addition to the Sydney Roosters premiership squad last season.

But his management said on Tuesday he remains happily retired after the 33-year-old announced after the grand final he wouldn't pursue options for another season.

Galuvao could be another logical target to come back for a final swansong at the Sea Eagles, but the 16-year NRL workhorse seemed happy to walk away after snapping his achilles at the beginning of last season.

The good news for the Sea Eagles is King is a chance to play round one after repeated shoulder problems.

The co-captain and former NSW prop has missed grand finals in 2011 and last year and is eager to make up for lost time.

"We're hopeful he'll be right for round one," Toovey said.

"He's been unfortunate he's missed the last two grand finals because of injury. He'd like to stay fit for this year and we're pretty confident he's put the hard yards in and touch wood that's what will happen."


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