Manly culture on mend amid 'nightmare' season
MANLY forward Joel Thompson insists the Sea Eagles' culture is improving despite allegations surrounding rookie hooker Manase Fainu adding to "a bit of a nightmare" NRL season.
Team management are expected on Tuesday to name Fainu in their squad to face Melbourne just days after it was revealed on Saturday that he was facing charges of intentionally recording an intimate image without consent.
The incident is alleged to have happened in April. Fainu appeared in court in May and was given conditional bail.
The 19-year-old will return to court next month and the NRL will wait until the matter is finalised - unless a guilty plea is entered - before making a decision on any reaction.
Fainu only made his NRL debut for the Sea Eagles a fortnight ago against Penrith but the issue adds to a long list of problems at Manly this year that have included the dramas surrounding April's Gladstone trip and Jackson Hastings' release.
They've also been forced to release players to manage their salary cap issues, had a mounting injury toll and are slowly pulling away from their maiden wooden-spoon with wins over top-eight certainties Brisbane, Melbourne and Penrith in the past two months.
Thompson said the players and club were already implementing ways to ensure the pattern stopped and such a year was not repeated.
"It's been a bit of a nightmare," he said.
"But we move forward and we keep improving and make sure things don't happen again and repeat and we start making sure the culture is strong.
"It's easy for people to sit back and bag us but we've got a good group here and these things happen.
"You learn from them. That's how you go and move forward.
"We've got to do that and keep improving ourselves as a team and a club and we are. We're working really hard."
Fainu trained with the Sea Eagles on Monday after he and Trent Hodkinson shared the dummy-half duties in their last-start win over Penrith.
Dylan Walker also ran on his return from a knee injury with the problem thought not to be as serious as first expected.
However, his grudge match with Storm centre Curtis Scott is likely to take a backward seat if Fainu does play, given Walker would likely move to five-eighth and the opposite side of the field to the man who broke his eye socket with a punch two months ago.
"It looked like he got through the session OK," Hodkinson said of Walker.
"He was quite vocal on the sideline when we were doing our fitness stuff.
"Walks has shown he can play in the halves.
"He's a great ball runner. He can kick the footy and pass. He played well.
"I remember him playing in the halves for Souths."