After scraping into the top six Manly’s backs are firmly up against the wall heading into Saturday’s qualifying final against minor premiers Sydney University, but they have been boosted by the return of globe-trotting hooker James Hilterbrand.
Hilterbrand returns to the Marlins’ pack for Saturday’s sudden-death final after returning from his two-month stint with the USA’s preliminary World Cup squad, landing back on Australian shores on Sunday night.
He wasn’t actually expecting to be back as soon as he is though.
Following a four-week camp in Colorado Hilterbrand helped his Eagles navigate their way through the opening stages of the Pacific Nations Cup, the USA’s campaign finishes in Saturday’s title-decider against Japan.
“If we beat them we win it too which is pretty cool, but after we beat Canada and Samoa in they brought another hooker into the squad and I wasn’t going to play this weekend, so I sort of thought ‘great, I’ll go back and play for