Manly prop Addin Fonua-Blake can go a long way towards securing his goal of a permanent starting spot with a dominant performance against Newcastle tonight.
With the impending return of prop Darcy Lussick from an ankle injury in round three, 22-year-old Fonua-Blake has been promoted by Coach Trent Barrett to start alongside New Zealand international Martin Taupau.
Last season, Fonua-Blake started just once in the front-row, coming off the interchange 21 times. Taupau started in 22 matches and made the most offloads of any player in the NRL in 2017 with 73.
The pair also played alongside each other in Fonua-Blake’s Test debut for the Kiwis in the World Cup at the end of last season.
“I want to start,’’ Fonua-Blake said.
“It was a bit unfortunate what happened to Darcy, but it has opened up a door for me and I am just going to put my best foot forward.
“By starting with Marty this weekend, hopefully I can get a lot of energy out of him and it can really bring out the best in each other.”
Fonua-Blake is also thriving at the prospect of playing in front of a huge crowd at McDonald Jones Stadium.
“Newcastle have made some really big signings over the off-season and they are all quality players,’’ Fonua-Blake said.
“They can always turn one on. We don’t know what they are going to throw at us.
“On the back of their home crowd, they are going to be really hard to stop, so we are going have to bring our A game.”