Now that the first of this year's representative games have come and
gone we can return to the NRL - and what an absolute ripper of a game
this Friday night at ANZ Stadium.
Canterbury and Manly will be the grudge-match-of-the-year - a game with unprecedented intensity.
It has all the ingredients to live up to the hype that will occur during the week.
I don't think we will have another regular season match this year with such feeling.
Canterbury poached most of the Manly coaching staff and are now chasing Sea Eagles stars Kieran Foran and Tony Williams.
It is fair to say that Manly's dislike for Canterbury has never been deeper.
You have to love that old Sydney club rivalry.
A crowd of more than 25,000 is expected for the match - I wonder how many of those will be Manly fans?
Sea Eagles supporters aren't known for wanting to travel south or east of the Spit Bridge or Roseville Bridge.
It will be physical, aggressive and tough between two teams that mirror one-another.
Hasler seems to have transferred that rugged style of play from Brookvale to Belmore.
Manly haven't changed their successful style either so this will be two teams playing a similar, grinding structure.
So far this season, Manly have won three from seven, the Bulldogs four from seven.
It isn't quite desperate times just yet but this season is slipping by quickly.
No-one can afford too many more slip-ups.
Des Hasler versus Geoff Toovey will be intriguing. The teacher versus the pupil.
I am still getting used to seeing Hasler in Canterbury's famous blue and white colours.
cannot believe Hasler is being criticised for chasing Foran and
Williams. That is what coaches do - buy players they think can win their
club a premiership.
The build-up to the match will be intense and fiery - and I reckon that will be matched by what we see on the field.
I couldn't sign off without a tip.
At the risk of annoying Manly fans, I am tipping the Doggies by four.
Michael Hagan is Qld assistant coach and a premiership-winning player & coach.