Jeff Dickinson-Fox reviews the campaign which saw Melbourne Storm crowned premiers in 2017.
3 days ago
Incumbent Kangaroos forward Brent Kite believes he is finally rediscovering his form and hopes selectors have taken notice with just one more game before the Centenary Test team is named.
The Manly prop admits he has struggled to find his feet in 2008 as the Sea Eagles fielded three front rowers with the inclusion of recruit Josh Perry to the lineup.
But Kite says he has overcome the mental hurdle of being named in the second row and is now hitting his stride just in time for Test selection next Sunday.
The 27-year-old turned the corner with a strong performance in last week's loss to Melbourne and then stepped up another gear as Manly produced one of the club's best wins to fight back for a 20-16 win over Parramatta Friday night.
"You like to think being in the last team does put your name up there to be talked about at least. I think I had a slow start to the season but if I can fire up now I might get a shot," Kite said.
"I was just in a slightly different role and those first few games took a bit of adjusting.
"I was sort of sitting back and with Josh Perry and Jason King going so well I was finding it hard to get into a game and play that leadership role that you're asked to do in the front row.
"It wasn't until we played Melbourne and Josh was out that I was thrust back in there and I think it brought the best out of me.
"Not that I killed them but I felt like I had my best game of the year to date and I felt like I built on that (against the Eels).
"I'm just on a bit of a mindset to get this backrow thing out of my head. We are playing with three front rowers and whoever blows first will have a spell.
"I'm well aware that I had a bit of a slow start to the year but I'm hoping if I can string a few good ones together now I will be in contention."
Kite will get a final chance to press for selection when the Eagles host the Bulldogs at Brookvale Oval next Saturday.
After an inspired comeback over the Eels Friday night moved Manly to 3-3 for the year, Kite hopes they can now get on a roll to relaunch their NRL season.
"That loss against Melbourne was a little bit of a setback," he said.
"The first couple of games we lost we could nearly say we lost it. We got into good positions in those games and lost it so it was certainly a good wake-up call against Melbourne.
"Winning consecutive games really gets that belief back into our game ... so if we can string a couple together now we will just go from strength to strength."