Manly coach Geoff Toovey is hopeful Anthony Watmough will be fit to return to action before the final round of the NRL season after the NSW star was diagnosed with a posterior cruciate ligament injury.

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Watmough limped off during the first half of Sunday’s 27-12 win over the Warriors and will sit out Friday’s crunch clash with second-placed South Sydney at Gosford.

The Sea Eagles, who sit in third, go into the game in red-hot form having chalked up 225 points in just six games – and face a Souths side going through a sticky patch, losing three of their last four to slip off the top of the ladder.

Toovey admits the loss of Watmough against one the best packs in the competition will be a big blow but said the manner in which his side dealt with the Warriors’ big forwards after the representative back-rower’s exit gives him great confidence.

“They are a very large pack of forwards as were the Warriors,” Toovey said.

“But I thought we handled them pretty well and hopefully we can do the same against Souths.

“Choc’s (Watmough) injury has settled quite quickly and I am hoping he’ll be back in two weeks.”

Justin Horo, who was rewarded with an upgraded contract last week after some brilliant displays following his release by Parramatta at the end of last season, will replace Watmough after sitting out Sunday’s game with a calf strain.

Toovey wouldn’t be drawn on Sam Burgess’ ‘squirrel grip’ incident after the Englishman pleaded guilty to a contrary conduct charge on Tuesday.

However, he said the return to action of Greg Inglis will make up for the loss of Souths’ star forward.

“Sam has been in terrific form, but I am sure one of his brothers will come in for him,” he said.

“They have all done terrific this year and give great momentum for Issac Luke out of dummy-half.

“Without Inglis Souths are a lot less potent and he is a real threat and he is at least worth six-to-12 points for them.”