Kane Evans is raring to go, as he awaits his NZ Warriors debut on Friday night against Many Sea Eagles.
The towering forward has missed the opening month of the campaign through lack of fitness, but Evans is a much-needed addition to a depleted pack for the clash on the NSW Central Coast.
Addin Fonua-Blake, Bunty Afoa, Bayley Sironen and Jamayne Taunoa-Brown are all missed through injury or suspension, leaving a slot open for Evans, who was one of the club’s big off-season recruits.
Evans picked up a knee injury playing for Parramatta Eels at the end of the 2020 season, disrupting his preparation for this campaign, but after several games for Redcliffe in the Queensland Cup and a run in the New South Wales Cup last weekend, the 29-year-old is back to full fitness.
And the 2m, 116kg giant is excited to bring a fresh skillset to his game.
"There are a lot of [different] emotions going through me at the moment," Evans says.
"I used to be an attacking-based player, but I've really changed the way I think.
"I just want to try and get the boys up in line-speed and marker play that brings that energy in defence.
"Everyone can attack, but to change that to a defensive mindset is hard. You've got to be selfless and worry about the hard things... put away the brakes and the hitting lines and those selfish 'superstar' plays, and leave those to the backs.
"We've got enough strike power to do that, so I just need to do my job."
Given his limited forward stocks, coach Nathan Brown is relieved to have a player of Evans’ calibre.
With Fonua-Blake likely to miss two months, Evans may play a major role and Brown looks forward to unleashing him on the Sea Eagles.
"He's got his body in good shape and he's had a couple of runs in Cup footy, so we just want him to bring what he's good at," Brown says.
"I expect Kane to play like Kane can play. He's played some really good footy at the Roosters and Parramatta, and had plenty of finals experience, so he will add a lot."
Manly are winless through their 2021 campaign so far, leaking 156 points over their four games.
Join us at 8pm, Friday for live updates of the Warriors v Sea Eagles.