Manly coach Des Hasler expects prop Addin Fonua-Blake to play with a point to prove when he returns from suspension against a desperate North Queensland on Friday night.
Fonua-Blake is back after his two-week ban for an offensive slur directed at referee Grant Atkins that cost him a $20,000 fine.
The Tongan international has also been cleared by the Queensland Government to play after previously refusing to take the mandatory flu shot.
Hasler revealed Fonua-Blake had excelled at training during his suspension and was ready to redeem himself with a strong performance against the Cowboys.
“He (Addin) has been really accountable in that area and is looking forward to getting back on the park,” Hasler said.
“I think he understands (his responsibilities) that well and truly.
“He has been very diligent, resourceful and offered great support, particularly working with junior players.
“Players these days always pride themselves on how they perform, both in the physical aspect and the mental perspective.
“He already brings a high level of confidence to the team and it’s timely because the Cowboys forward pack has Taumalolo, Hess and a couple of good players there, so we are going to need every resource that we have.”
Manly’s Addin Fonua-Blake is back from suspension with a point to prove. Picture: Brett CostelloSource:News Corp Australia
Prior to his suspension, Fonua-Blake was regarded as one of the NRL’s finest forwards.
Hasler says the Sea Eagles have benefited from the big man’s evolvement as a player and person in the past 12 months.
“He had been playing great footy and the growth and the maturity in his game has been enormous,” he said.
“It is not so much in visual quantities. It is probably in the influence on other players.
“He is up there with the best props.”
Hasler believes the Cowboys will come out firing regardless of coach Paul Green’s departure midweek.
“This side doesn’t have to lose its coach to be playing exceptionally well,” he said.
“I’ve watched the Cowboys the last couple of weeks and they have been really impressive.
“They haven’t got the results, but their 40 minutes against the Roosters they pushed them all the way.
“And again last week against Penrith at Penrith Park, which is a notorious ground to be ambushed, I thought they were really strong.
“So, we won’t be going to Townsville expecting any different.”
Hasler also threw his support behind Trent Barrett, who this week was announced as Canterbury coach for three seasons from 2021.
Hasler spent six seasons at the Bulldogs before replacing Barrett at the Sea Eagles last year.
“It is a great opportunity and it is a club steeped in great history and tradition,” Hasler said when asked about Barrett’s appointment at Canterbury.
“Trent has coached first grade before. I haven’t worked with Trent, so I can only go off what is referred to.”
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