Manly carry semi-final chip on shoulder

Manly prop Taniela Paseka is desperate to right the wrongs of past NRL finals.
Manly prop Taniela Paseka is desperate to right the wrongs of past NRL finals.

Taniela Paseka hasn't stopped thinking about the last time Manly lost to South Sydney in an NRL final.

It was September 2019 - the Sea Eagles went from six points up in a semi-final with 13 minutes to play to eight-point losers.

"We've got a chip on our shoulder from that," the Manly prop admitted.

While life has changed dramatically since that night, Paseka and Manly have not let go of it.

It was a night that included two Manly players being sent to the sin bin and ended with the famous footage of an animated Des Hasler on the phone to NRL headquarters.

"It was upsetting," Paseka said.

"The year we had, we should have won it.

"It was one of those games where we should have won and we didn't end up coming out with a win.

"We've got another chance again, which doesn't come very often. And when a chance like that comes, we've got to take it."

For Paseka, the pain was much worse.

A fixture of Manly's pack after missing the first half of the season through injury, the Kiwi-born front-rower was hurt in the final round against Parramatta.

It robbed him of his maiden finals series, as Manly were left stretched in both the forwards and backs for their return to September under Des Hasler.

"I was devastated," Paseka said.

"It was hurting me watching the first week (win against Cronulla and) not playing. Because I was playing pretty much every game that season.

"That's the thing you work for you work for, you work for finals. When you don't get to play, it gets in your head.

"When we lost, I felt bad that I couldn't be out there with a voice to help them."

Which is why when the term desperation is uttered this week, the 23-year-old is adamant it's not just on the Rabbitohs' side of the fence.

Souths' horror preliminary finals record has already been spoken about at length this week, with players adamant they don't want to be known as a team that can't reach a grand final.

But as far as Paseka is concerned Manly are just as driven.

"After missing that I don't want to miss it again," Paseka said.

"I'm driven to do whatever I possibly could. I spoke about that desperation. That's what I want to do.

"I want to show my desperation and our team is going to share that desperation in how much we want this."

Australian Associated Press