This Saturday night could mark the first time Manly hosts a sellout crowd in five years, as the Sea Eagles take on the Melbourne Storm at Brookvale Oval.
Manly have not exceeded the 18,000 attendance barrier in 1827 days, but the Sydney Morning Herald reports the Sea Eagles are hopeful of ending the drought.
With three days left to purchase tickets, only general admission tickets are available with corporate hospitality and reserved seating already sold out.
The last time Lottoland held a full house was in round 25 in 2014, where Manly beat Penrith 26-25 on a Sunday afternoon.
Despite Melbourne often struggling to draw large interstate crowds. Brookvale is expected to be full to the brim for the grudge match due to both clubs’ positions in the top-four and the deep-seated rivalry between them.
Only Manly’s Daly Cherry-Evans remains standing from the 2011 “Battle of Brookvale” which ignited the rivalry, but second-rower Curtis Sironen understands how much this match means to coach Des Hasler.
“He doesn’t really say it, but you can sort of tell with how much video he sends out,” returning forward Curtis Sironen said.
“He sends out double the amount of clips that we have to watch and he is always that little bit more jumpier during the week. Well, he was down in Melbourne.
“You can feel it around the place a bit, but it won’t be until game day when we get there and you sort of think, ‘Oh, wow, here we are’.
“You know that they’re the best team so you want to turn up and you’re always up for it. You prepare that little bit harder. It’s hard to be complacent in games like that. You just have to prepare as well as you can.”
The Storm and the Sydney Roosters have been the stand-out teams in the competition, which is motivating the Sea Eagles to get their second victory over their Victorian foes in 2019.
But despite the club’s confidence in their ability, Sironen wasn’t bullish about Manly’s chances of winning the premiership.
“We know we’re as good as anyone,” Sironen said. “We’ve played the Storm, played the Chooks, Canberra. The Chooks touched us up earlier in the year, but I think we’re a different side now.
“I’m not going to go out and say that we can do that [win comp], but we know that we’re competitive in any game now if we’re on so we’ve just got to make sure of that.”
Sironen has only featured in one finals game since he debuted in 2012, playing in the Sea Eagles qualifying final loss to Penrith in 2017, but he is keeping his focus on the rest of the home-and-away season.
“We were sort of, not making up numbers, but I think just even making the eight was a good effort [in 2017],” Sironen said. “Now we’ve got a new confidence in ourselves.
“This year is going to be a different story, but we’ve just got to worry about getting there.
“We’ve got two big games [left], if we drop the two big games we could finish sixth or seventh and then you could be [out] in the first week of finals.”