Raiders winger Bailey Simonsson concedes the thought of playing a Manly side without an in-form Tom Trbojevic was a bonus in their quest to get back into finals contention in Brisbane on Friday night.
The Sea Eagles have kept the door slightly ajar for Trbojevic to play against the Raiders this week with mystery surrounding the full extent of a cheekbone injury.
The Green Machine have a difficult run home to navigate if they're to finish in the top eight but could be boosted by the return of their own star No.1 with Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad edging closer to a comeback.
Nicoll-Klokstad hasn't featured since round five following neck surgery as Ricky Stuart weighs up making changes to his backline this week with Jarrod Croker (head knock) in doubt for the clash.
"They're still a great team without Tom," Simonsson said.
Episode 25 - Trbojevic's cheekbone latest, Eels slide continues, Fifita in ICU
"We haven't thought too much about it yet but Tommy has been playing outstanding footy and is a freak of a player.
"If he's not there I daresay it makes the job a little bit easier for us. We've had the Storm and we've got Manly, the Roosters and Warriors to finish … three tough games to finish the year.
"Every game is a must-win now. We want to put ourselves in a position where we're not relying on other results to make the eight."
Sea Eagles set sights on top four without Turbo
It was the corresponding clash against a depleted Sea Eagles outfit in round 17 that kick-started a mid-year resurgence for the Raiders, which has included four wins from their past six games.
However, Simonsson said the side needed to address their defensive start following last week's loss to Melbourne after surrendering three tries inside 20 minutes, if they were to compete with Manly.
The Raiders tightened up their line for the remainder of the game to push the competition leaders in the second half for a small consolation victory.
"It's great to know we've got that [defensive resolve] in us. We've always been a great defensive team but it's about not falling away in patches," he said.
"Against the top teams, that's what it comes down to."
Simonsson's treble in a beaten side is likely to keep the winger on the edge this week with Nicoll-Klokstad's possible return set to shift Jordan Rapana to the other flanker's spot.
Sebastian Kris is on standby for Croker, who will need to pass concussion protocols this week, while Harley Smith-Shield is also in the mix for the two centre berths.
Harawira-Naera charged for Hughes tackle
Simonsson said the squad had rallied around suspended forward Corey Harawira-Naera after he accepted a three-match ban for a high tackle that floored Maori All Stars teammate Jahrome Hughes.
"He's been good. It was an accident and those things happen in foot sometimes. He's a good man, Corey, and we all checked in on him and put an arm around him after the game," Simonsson said.
"We spoke to Jahrome too and he's all good. Those actions sometimes happen, you don't like seeing them happen to anyone but Corey's doing well and will bounce back from that."