MARLINS DON’T FEAR THE DEER
After his team moved into a share of second spot – one point off the Shute Shield lead – with a third consecutive win last Saturday, it was time to again ask Manly head coach Chris Delooze if he felt rivals now viewed the Marlins as the real deal.
“I will give you the same response I gave you last time. It doesn’t really matter. I don’t actually care what anyone else says as long as we’ve got our eye on the prize,” he told Fillets after our 45-24 disposal of Southern Districts at the Village Green.
Fair enough, too.
Manly folk know only too well premierships aren’t won in June and Delooze is not looking too far down the road.
But ahead of this Saturday’s summit clash with top-of-the-table Gordon at Chatswood Oval, the Marlins boss did give himself a minute or two to reflect on a pleasing first half of the season, which has returned a 6-3 win/loss record.
He said: “I’ve got confidence in the whole squad, the whole group at the moment is performing.
“They are learning how to start games and learning how to finish games. That is a big part of our season development.”
Gordon like to use the hashtag #fearthedeer but the Marlins head across Roseville Bridge in an upbeat mood.
“It’s exciting to be in a game like this. Gordon are big, they’re physical, they’re good and they’re at the top for a reason,” Delooze said.
“But we’re up there as well. We’re looking forward to the challenge.”
Delooze and his coaching staff have split the season up in sections, setting out a number of short and long-term goals.
Heading into a tricky run of games last month against teams outside the top six – Warringah, Two Blues and Souths – a challenge was put to the players.
Delooze told them: “Make no mistake about it. The next three weeks are going to be really important for the ladder and we’re looking to come away with 12-15 points.”
Bonus point wins against the Rats and Two Blues was followed by the comfortable, if slightly flat-ish, seven tries to four victory over Souths.
“It was the sort of beautiful autumn day where you could have been down the beach or at the (Taste of Manly) festival and not been fully focused, so it’s credit to our guys that we got up for the game,” Delooze said.
The Gordon game comes at a good time for the Marlins.
It’s a chance to see where we’re truly at against one of the Shute Shield’s powerhouses.