‘I don’t think they like me’: T-Rex braces for Manly return

Tony Williams is bracing for a heated return to Brookvale on and off the field after saying he doesn’t think the Manly fans like him after switching from the Sea Eagles to Canterbury this season.

Williams was Canterbury’s marquee signing, after following former Manly coach Des Hasler to Belmore at the start of the season in what intensified an already simmering rivalry between the clubs.

Despite winning a premiership with the Sea Eagles and going on to represent NSW and Australia during his four-year stint there, Williams said he expected no love to be lost when he returns to his old stomping ground for the first time as a Bulldog.

”I don’t think the [supporters] are a big fan of mine,” Williams said. ”I don’t think they like me at all over there.

”I’ve got heaps of respect for Manly and the Manly fans. I accomplished a lot over there. I’ve got nothing against them. I just have to do my best for myself and my team. I know they won’t be supporting me at all.”

The back-rower played in Canterbury’s 20-6 loss against Manly earlier this year. He said he expected to be singled out for extra attention from ex-teammates.

”The whole team [will target me],” Williams said. ”I just have to give it back. It’s always a big thing coming against your old team. Manly is a good team, they’ve always been a good team. I know them really well. I just can’t listen to anything else and believe in myself and my team.

”I don’t really get nervous. I use that to my advantage. I’m excited more than anything, Manly is probably the hardest team to play at home.”

After a self-confessed slow start to the season, Williams had started to find his feet before getting injured. He made his return from ankle and knee injuries off the bench in Canterbury’s 36-26 win against North Queensland on Saturday night which elevated them into the top eight for the first time this year. He played 52 minutes and made just his second line break of the season.

”[I was] getting close to my best,” Williams said of his form before the injury. ”I’m still not 100 per cent but there’s no excuse. I’m getting [back to my best] slowly.

”Once I get there it’ll be something I look forward to. After the first game back the injury was a bit sore, but it’s improving every day. I am looking for a big one.”

Meanwhile, interchange back-rower Dale Finucane said Hasler did not put any extra emphasis on defeating his old club.

Hasler has had two wins and two losses against Manly since switching last season. Finucane said there was a natural lift around the squad because of Manly’s on-field presence rather than any off-field rivalry.

”Des goes into each game the same every week,” Finucane said. ”He doesn’t really change because it’s Manly.”

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.

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