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Stewart expected to play GF for Manly

Manly star Brett Stewart is expected to play in Sunday's NRL grand final, despite experiencing further hamstring tightness during training this week.
Stewart expected to play GF for Manly
by AAP

By Ben Horne

SYDNEY, Oct 5 AAP - Manly star Brett Stewart is expected to play in Sunday's NRL grand final, despite experiencing further hamstring tightness during training this week.

Stewart's fitness sent some mild concern through the camp on the eve of the decider against the Sydney Roosters.

Reports suggest Stewart isn't 100 per cent after pulling up sore after his return against South Sydney last week, however he got through a light run with teammates.

Both clubs completed their captain's runs on Saturday, with respective coaches Geoff Toovey and Trent Robinson putting the final polish on preparations.

For Manly, Joe Galuvao is officially no chance of returning from an Achilles tear, but the news on key man Stewart is as positive as can be expected.

For the Roosters, star forwards Boyd Cordner and Luke O'Donnell are both expected to be late inclusions in the side.

Roosters players got through their final run without complication, however coach Robinson says he won't publicly confirm his 17 until an hour before kick-off.

The Sea Eagles were without Stewart in week one of the playoffs when they went down to grand final opponents the Roosters 4-0.

Their star fullback was instrumental in last week's come-from-behind preliminary final win over South Sydney and his impact in the decider will be a crucial factor on the final outcome.

If Stewart was to miss the match, the Roosters would grow enormously in confidence.

Stewart's deputy at fullback, 20-year-old Peta Hiku, has been outstanding - but doesn't have the attacking instincts and presence of the former Kangaroos and NSW custodian.

"They need him ... he has to play," said former Manly prop, Mark Carroll.

Sea Eagles premiership winner Max Brown said he couldn't split Stewart from the club's fullback from their 1970s golden era, Graham Eadie.

"Different styles of play but both got the same result and are absolutely fantastic," said Brown.

"I don't think I could rate either of those as number one and two. I'd put them both as number one."

The inclusion of O'Donnell and particularly Cordner will provide a major boost for the Roosters.

Cordner broke through for NSW Origin selection this year and was voted the Dally M second rower of the year.

He was outstanding for the Roosters until he broke his ankle seven weeks ago.

He was close to playing last week against Newcastle, and Robinson has indicated he'll play the 21-year-old if he's anywhere close to full fitness.

O'Donnell is an NRL veteran with grand final, Origin and Test experience.

He missed the Knights' final with a hamstring strain but has reportedly recovered.

Dylan Napa and Isaac Liu are tipped to be the young Roosters to make way.

At Manly, young forward James Hasson and journeyman David Gower are vying to fill the vacant spot on the bench.

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