Daly Cherry-Evans insists Addin Fonua-Blake is not letting Manly teammates down if he refuses the flu vaccine and misses Friday night's NRL clash with North Queensland.
Fonua-Blake has just days to decide if he will receive the jab - as per Queensland's regulations - or miss a third straight game for the Sea Eagles.
The powerful Manly prop has remained steadfast in his stance he does not want to be vaccinated, claiming he has his own reasons for his decision.
But the timing of the trip north could not be worse for the Sea Eagles front-rower.
Manly had hoped the no-jab no-play policy would have been lifted by next week but the COVID-19 issue has not gone away.
Fonua-Blake has been suspended for the past two rounds for his high-profile contrary conduct charge, and the Sea Eagles desperately need to string wins together.
But as far as Cherry-Evans is concerned, he does not expect Fonua-Blake to play.
And the Manly captain insisted he would not try and sway his teammate to change his stance.
"Whatever a person decides to get it or not get it that is completely up to them as a person," Cherry-Evans said
"There is an argument out there that we are playing a team sport and he is letting his team down.
"I don't believe that.
"He is standing his ground as a person and his beliefs.
"Whether anyone else thinks it's right or wrong, it's what he believes in.
"I feel like that is a really big part of what we are trying to build as a club: people being comfortable to be themselves."
Fonua-Blake's position could become more critical in the unlikely event the competition is forced to head north later in the year if Sydney has another coronavirus spike.
Earlier this month, Canterbury hooker Sione Katoa received the needle - after he initially rejected it - to play for the Bulldogs against Brisbane.
Canberra face a similar scenario with Josh Papalii and Jospeh Tapine with two trips across the border in coming weeks.
Sia Soliola - who was believed to be strongest in his stance against the vaccination - is unavailable through injury.
Fonua-Blake last month praised the way Manly had handled his position, after he saw Brian Kelly and Bryce Cartwright initially stood down from Gold Coast training for refusing the jab.
Kelly eventually relented while Cartwright received medical exemption.
"I can guarantee you there would be no one more disappointed that they aren't going next week than Addin," Cherry-Evans said.
"He wants to be back playing with the boys.
"He understands what has happened in the past few weeks when he hasn't been out there.
"He will be eager to get back out there and help us.
"But this week I am assuming we won't be using him this weekend and that's just footy."