17 hours ago
Ballin ready to tackle Buderus
Manly hooker Matt Ballin says he'll never replace departed rake Michael Monaghan, mainly because he's modelled his career on the man he faces on Saturday night, Newcastle Test star Danny Buderus.
Ballin stepped into the No.9 jersey this year after Monaghan left for Warrington in the only major change to the Sea Eagles grand final lineup from last season.
The 24-year-old's ability to fill Monaghan's void will go a long way towards determining how Manly performs in 2008.
But Ballin says he isn't feeling any pressure trying to live up to Monaghan's high standards.
"I feel really comfortable. Ox (Halfback Matt Orford) has given me full confidence and so has Killer (five-eighth Jamie Lyon) to just go out there and do what I do," said Ballin.
"It's a learning experience and time will help us out there.
"We've spoken about (the pressure of replacing Monaghan) before and know that I'm a totally different player than Monas. There is a little bit of pressure but if I use it positively it will only benefit my game."
Ballin comes up against one of the toughest opponents in the NRL on Saturday night, with Knights hooker Buderus fully fit after a superb preseason and determined to reclaim his Kangaroos jumper from Melbourne's Cam Smith for the Centenary Test.
"It will be another great challenge, he is a great player and has been for a long time. I've learnt a bit off him in the past watching videos of him so hopefully I can use it against him," said Ballin.
"I've modelled my game around him and I like to do a bit of ball playing in attack and just tackle and play for the whole 80 minutes."
Manly's season got off to a rocky start in the round one loss to Cronulla, but Ballin says the Sea Eagles are ready to make amends against the Knights at EnergyAustralia Stadium on Saturday.
Newcastle opened with a solid win over Canberra and Ballin knows the Eagles will need to improve on last week's effort to topple the Knights.
"We stuttered in our ways but we've looked at that and know where we went wrong. It's not really bad things we have to fix up, just some simple little things," he said.
"As a positive our defence was really good and we just made some silly mistakes, forward passes and dropped balls.
"It's just a little few corrections to make and next week will be a different story.