NRL: Horo recalls wake-up call

Manly player says high standards the secret behind club's success

Justin Horo says the Sea Eagles have a winning culture. Photo / Getty Images
Justin Horo says the Sea Eagles have a winning culture. Photo / Getty Images

It took Justin Horo just one day to realise the high standards expected from new recruits by Manly's senior playing group.

Having spent all of his career with Parramatta, Horo, son of former Kiwi Mark, was shown the door by the Eels at the end of last season with a year still remaining on his contract, and thrown a lifeline by the Sea Eagles.

But any hopes of an easy introduction for the back rower from his new teammates went straight out of the window on day one of pre-season when he made a mistake in a simple training drill and was told in no uncertain terms to raise his game.

And that was the moment it dawned on the 26-year-old what it took to become a success in the NRL - and he claims it's why the Sea Eagles sit on the cusp of a fourth grand final appearance since 2007.

"I can't remember who it was, I think it may have been Gifty [Glenn Stewart] and Stevie Matai," Horo said.

"They didn't get in my face or anything like that, but they made it clear that the club has high standards even in training.

"The coaches here are all outstanding, but the senior playing group are so experienced and have been brought up with a winning culture and that rubs off of everyone."

Only Melbourne have a better recent finals record than Manly, who have finished in the top eight every year since 2005 and won two premierships.

It's a remarkable achievement considering the club has one of the more unstable boardrooms in the NRL and lacks the huge financial clout of Sydney rivals Canterbury and Parramatta, who are backed by wealthy league clubs, and the News Limited-funded Brisbane.

Tonight's preliminary final against a South Sydney side refreshed from a week's break will present a huge test for Geoff Toovey's side - one many believe will be too big for his weary players.

After backing up from their 4-0 loss to the Sydney Roosters in an epic qualifying final clash, the Sea Eagles were out on their feet in the second half of last week's gritty 24-18 win over Cronulla.

They must now face a giant Souths pack, but Horo has warned Souths that with a grand final spot at stake, knowledge is power.

"There are a lot of boys here who have only played in winning sides," Horo said. "Matai, the Stewart boys, Matt Ballin, Jamie Lyon, Brent Kite, they've only known finals football every September.

"That's huge going into a game like this."

- AAP

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production bpcf01 at 30 Dec 2014 00:13:27 Processing Time: 394ms