Trbojevic back for Manly and Origin push

Tom Trbojevic will make his long-awaited return for Manly when the Sea Eagles play Gold Coast.
Tom Trbojevic will make his long-awaited return for Manly when the Sea Eagles play Gold Coast.

Tom Trbojevic's long injury lay off is finally over with Manly coach Des Hasler declaring he'd have no issue with the injury-plagued superstar playing State of Origin this year.

Trbojevic will make his long-awaited return for the Sea Eagles against Gold Coast on Saturday, almost three months after tearing his left hamstring for the third time in two years.

It will leave the 23-year-old two games to push his Origin claims, after scoring a hat-trick with similar lead in time for NSW in Game II last year.

Trbojevic is arguably the most important single player to any team's success in the competition.

Without him, Manly's season has spiralled out of control since, going from top-four hopefuls to winning just three of their past 12 games to miss the finals.

But Hasler said he would not stand in the way of the fullback pushing his body until mid-November.

"Aspiration is really important, playing Origin is certainly aspirational and inspirational for players," Hasler said.

"It's an Origin charter like no other, it's basically a five-week camp and an extended squad is going to be important.

"Whether he plays or takes the field isn't important at the moment. It's getting through the weekend and then tackling the rest later.

"If all goes well you'd think he would come up for strong consideration."

Nor did Hasler ever consider putting him on ice for the rest of 2020 once Manly's season was shot.

Both the club and Trbojevic have sought expert advice from specialists at Australian Catholic University on how to manage the troublesome muscle.

The Sea Eagles had always insisted they would be cautious with the Manly junior, but would also return him once fit.

"Players like Tommy, they're footballers and want to play football. It's what they work for.

"Tomorrow is a result from the fruit of his labours.

"He doesn't have to break or set any records. It's probably just working his way through and getting a good stint under his belt.

"The position he is playing you can't really dictate or manage how it's played. He plays on instinct."

Meanwhile Trbojevic's younger brother Ben still remains a chance of a debut against the Titans, while wantaway forward Addin Fonua-Blake will miss with a knee injury.

Hasler said Fonua-Blake's request to negotiate with non-Sydney clubs this week had been in the works for some time with the powerhouse prop.

The Warriors remain the favourite to land his signature, but Manly would not be rushed into finding a replacement with Hasler happy with the depth in their squad.

"The individual is important, it's about making sure they are happy," Hasler said.

"From the human resource side it's not too hard of a decision. From a playing perspective he is a talent and someone we will miss."

STATS THAT MATTER:

* Manly concede the most ruck infringements per game (4.8)

* Gold Coast are aiming for four straight wins for the first time since 2014.

* The winning team has scored at least 30 in the last seven matches between these teams.

Stats: Fox Sports

Australian Associated Press