Manly can win it
FORMER Casino Cougar and St John's College Woodlawn rugby league player Albert Torrens believes his old NRL club the Manly Sea Eagles have the right coach to deliver the Sydney club its second premiership in four years.
Des Hasler masterminded a memorable NRL title win for Manly in 2008 when they beat the Melbourne Storm 40-0, a record grand final margin.
Former centre Torrens wore the maroon and white from 1998 until 2004 and played for the northern beaches club while Hasler was the trainer and then the coach.
"Des has everyone at the Sea Eagles working for each other, especially in defence," said Torrens, who now helps those in need as an Aboriginal outreach worker for Mission Australia based in Sydney.
"I've had a fair bit to do with him over the years and he's one of the fittest men I've seen."
Also in Manly's favour, according to Torrens, is the fact they have Geoff Toovey on their side as their current trainer.
Torrens played for the Eagles while the diminutive halfback/hooker was their captain.
"Geoff's a very smart person and great at giving instructions," he said.
"He's very tough, especially for a man of his size."
The Sea Eagles have endured some tough times on their way to making this year's grand final.
Recently their media manager Peter Peters was infamously given his marching orders after calling Sky News reporter Megan Barnard a "good sort".
This was after a pre-season function in 2009 when players Anthony Watmough and Brett Stewart were hauled over the coals for their boozy behaviour.
The Sea Eagles' response has traditionally been to adopt a siege mentality against all criticism.
Torrens saw similar qualities at the club in 2004 when they were struggling for wins on the paddock.
He left them in 2005 to join the St George Illawarra Dragons.
"Whenever something does happen at Manly, the players definitely stick together," he said.
"Every club goes through ups and downs and I knew when Dessie came on board as our coach that things would turn around."
Torrens believes Sunday's battle of young and exciting Manly halves Kieran Foran and Daly Cherry- Evans and the Warriors' Shaun Johnson and James Maloney could be one to remember.
"Both teams have a very young set of halves but they all have big futures," he said.
"They seem to handle first grade well.
"The Warriors can pull a rabbit out of the hat at anytime but I believe Manly will win."
As a former outside back, Torrens has closely followed Sea Eagles' winger Will Hopoate's amazing season.
Hopoate will embark on a two-year Mormon mission next year.
"I watched Will growing up and he's a game breaker like his father John was," Torrens said.
"But Will's the complete package and I hope he comes back in the same sort of form after his two-year religious journey."