Bird awaits clearance for Manly game

Cronulla lock Greg Bird will give his injured hamstring an early morning test in a desperate bid to play against Manly in the NRL match at Brookvale Oval.

Bird is yet to run at 100 per cent but is confident his injured leg will get through a thorough trial.

The Test representative had a light run with the rest of his Sharks teammates on Friday, his first full session since straining his hamstring during training three weeks ago.

"It feels pretty good, it feels like it should be right," Bird said.

"I wouldn't say I'm definite, I'll have a run in the morning and see how it goes.

"I've just been taking it easy and haven't really pushed it yet.

"It's not the sort of thing you can struggle through with, it's either right or it's not."

While desperate to play in the `battle of the beaches', Bird said he wouldn't jeopardise the rest of his season just to play in the opening round.

The Sharks need Bird on the paddock more often than not this season if they are to be any chance of making the top eight.

"I don't really want to have the sort of season that Brett Kearney say had last season where he kept coming back from quad injuries and just re-tearing it," Bird said.

"It can be a big problem but hopefully we've nipped it in the bud over the last few weeks through rehab."

Coming off the back of a grand final appearance last season, the Sea Eagles are naturally high on confidence heading into the showdown.

But as fullback Brett Stewart admitted, Manly-Cronulla games don't tend to follow your average script.

"They always grow an arm and a leg when they face us," said Test custodian Stewart.

"It's going to be an exciting game.

"The first game will be good to get everything we've been planning for all pre-season out and hopefully the crowd can get down there for a full house at Brooky."

The biggest talking point for the Sea Eagles over the off-season is how they will overcome the loss of hooker Michael Monaghan.

Matt Ballin has been given first crack at the No.9 jumper and his combination with halfback Matt Orford could take a few games to click.

Bird said the Sea Eagles could be affected by the mental scars of last year's grand final letdown.

"They're coming off a big grand final loss so you never really know how they're going to turn up," Bird said.

"It's just a matter of us turning up and playing how we want to play."