Manly back-up Elliot earns NRL finals spot

Brendan Elliot has played more NRL games in 2019 than in any single season before he joined Manly.
Brendan Elliot has played more NRL games in 2019 than in any single season before he joined Manly.

Brendan Elliot's decision to embrace being a back-up at Manly is paying dividends with the stand-in fullback reaping the reward of his first NRL finals series.

One of the Sea Eagles' few off-season recruits, Elliot arrived ready to play the waiting game rather than trying to force his way into the top 17.

Mostly a centre and winger earlier in his career, he spent months working alongside Tom Trbojevic through the summer in case he was needed.

"I was always going to be the back-up for Turbo," Elliot told AAP.

"I trained at fullback all pre-season just in case for when Tommy couldn't play for Origin.

"He taught me a lot in the six months of pre-season. He is an absolute weapon.

"We didn't really have another fullback, so there was always going to be a period where Tom couldn't play through Origin and just fatigue with rep games."

Elliot has since got far more than that.

Called into the side as a player who had started at fullback just seven times before round one, Elliot has now filled in for Trbojevic 13 times this year.

And he is now starting to look at home in the No.1 jersey.

While Manly have no doubt missed Trbojevic at the back over the past month, Elliot was one of the Sea Eagles' unsung heroes in their win over Cronulla.

He scored a try, finished with eight tackle busts and put Daly Cherry-Evans in a hole to break down field in the lead up to a first-half try.

Elliot has now played more games in 2019 than any other year in his six-season career, after spending time at the Sydney Roosters, Newcastle and Gold Coast.

Friday night will be another challenge for the 25-year-old, against a South Sydney side piloted by one of the best kickers in the game in Adam Reynolds.

"It has been quite a journey," Elliot said.

"I have enjoyed every moment of it. There have been a few ups and downs.

"My time at Manly I have loved, I feel at home here. Everything has worked out really well.

"I never would have thought I would be playing week two of the finals.

"But starting the season there has given me the confidence to slot back in there now."

Australian Associated Press