Manly's sustained run of off-field dramas that threatened to destroy their season could prove the catalyst that propels an unlikely shot at the NRL finals.
Sea Eagles coach Trent Barrett declared his team had turned a corner on Thursday, as they prepare for a shot at a third straight road victory against Canberra on Friday night.
After enduring a winless April following their ill-fated Gladstone trip, Manly have shocked Brisbane and Melbourne in consecutive weeks to put themselves back in finals contention.
Victories over the Raiders and North Queensland in the Origin-affected round 13 could put them back in the top eight, a situation that would have been considered impossible a fortnight ago amid the fallout from the Jackson Hastings affair.
"Through a bit of adversity you do learn a lot about each other," Barrett said.
"I think we have turned the corner. We pushed through a fair bit of drama on and off the field.
"Through tough times you find out who is in it and who is going to fight their way out of it."
Central to Barrett's concerns over the next month is the availability of his players.
Manly are down to just 21 available members of their full-time roster, after Dylan Walker was ruled out for six weeks with a fractured eye socket.
They also face the prospect of being without Tom and Jake Trbojevic next week against the Cowboys due to Origin duties, while Barrett is hopeful Daly Cherry-Evans and Apisai Koroisau could join the brothers at the MCG on June 6.
"(Cherry-Evans) is playing very well," Barrett said.
"I think his last 18 months of footy have been very good. I think he has done himself no harm in the way he is playing.
"As for Tom and Jake, exactly the same. Their last three or four weeks have been very good. Tom came through a bit of a hard patch and came out the other side of it.
"With Api, it just depends what Freddie (Fittler) wants. They're all (fellow NSW No.9 candidates Damien Cook and Cameron McInnes) very good ball runners but Api is probably a bit more creative than the other two."
Barrett's depth will be further tested if Martin Taupau and Addin Fonua-Blake are picked for New Zealand in the Denver Test.
But they have received good news this week, with Jorge Taufua back on Friday, Brad Parker and Jack Gosiewski fit for next week and forward Kelepi Tanginoa set to return from what was originally thought to be a season-ending knee injury in round 18.
Australian Associated Press