Fearless Manly brush 6-year stadium hoodoo

Martin Taupau says Manly's six-year losing streak at ANZ Stadium holds no fears for the Sea Eagles.
Martin Taupau says Manly's six-year losing streak at ANZ Stadium holds no fears for the Sea Eagles.

Manly have declared themselves ready to prove they fear no team, venue or scenario as they plot to extend their unlikely NRL finals run.

Injury-riddled and written off before the finals began, Manly's attention has turned firmly to South Sydney for Friday night's semi-final at ANZ Stadium.

It is a ground that's proved problematic for the Sea Eagles, who have lost their last nine matches at the cavernous 2000 Olympic Games showpiece, dating right back to their 2013 grand final loss.

There is a theory that the ground's at-times dewy surface does not suit their free-flowing football, with their record by far the worst of any team at the ground in the last six years.

But after shocking far-more fancied Cronulla at Lottoland last week, Sea Eagles players are hardly fussed by any talk of a ground hoodoo.

"Whatever the record may be, it doesn't really matter for us," declared prop Martin Taupau, preparing to return from suspension.

"We're breaking every record and moving on to a win.

"It's just a ground. It's going to be totally different because it's a semi-final."

Taupau is the only Sea Eagle sidelined from Saturday's win who will return for Friday's clash, with the club still missing $2 million worth of talent through injury.

However they received a boost on Tuesday with captain Daly Cherry-Evans returning to training, having been sent home early on Monday due to a virus.

Souths players have expressed desperation to rebound following their heavy qualifying final loss to the Sydney Roosters last week.

But after conquering the Sharks against the odds, Cherry-Evans said his team would take the same backs-to-the-wall approach against Wayne Bennett's Rabbitohs.

"I think it's scary when a team is in the finals with nothing to lose," Cherry-Evans said.

"That is certainly the case for us.

"There's not much pressure and not many people backing us to win at the moment.

"We don't fear any situation but we do respect our opposition."

Manly do at least have winning form this year against most remaining teams in the finals.

They beat Souths earlier this year despite losing Tom Trbojevic to injury just after half-time, with Cherry-Evans getting them home via a field goal.

They've also beaten Canberra, Melbourne and Parramatta - making the Sydney Roosters the one team left they haven't toppled.

"You do get confidence out of beating sides earlier in the year," Cherry- Evans said.

"But having played finals footy before it does change.

"You obviously get confidence in your combinations but what happens now, it really does amplify.

"We know we have to go to another level."

MANLY'S ANZ STADIUM WOES SINCE 2013 DECIDER

2013: Lost GF to Sydney Roosters 26-18

2014: Lost 23-18 to Canterbury

2015: Lost 28-16 to Canterbury, 20-8 to South Sydney

2016: Lost 20-16 to Canterbury

2017: Lost 30-16 to Canterbury

2018: Loss 34-6 to South Sydney, 44-10 to Parramatta

2019: Lost 21-20 to South Sydney

Australian Associated Press