Manly's loss to the Penrith in round 26 had wide repercussions.

Manly's loss to Penrith in round 26 had wide repercussions. Photo: Getty Images

Never underestimate the importance of two factors at this time of year: firstly, the value of an extra 24 hours preparation for a match and secondly, the left-right mindset of players.

When third-placed Manly were surprisingly defeated by Penrith on Sunday, coaches Trent Robinson, Michael Maguire and Craig Bellamy had already lost a collective five days of preparation.

Robinson, whose Roosters defeated Maguire's Rabbitohs on Friday night, would have completed a detailed match plan to play Bellamy's fourth-placed Melbourne and Maguire would have been focusing on Manly, right through until the final whistle in the Sea Eagles-Penrith match.

Bellamy, whose Storm team survived a golden-point game to beat the Titans on Saturday night, would have spent the next day reviewing that match and anticipating the Roosters' tactics. He would have seen Titans forward David Taylor rip through the Storm's porous left-side and pictured Roosters second-rower Sonny Bill Williams replicating the tactic in Saturday night's second double-header at Allianz Stadium, when the teams were expected to meet.

SBW is deemed a right-sided player in today's game, where players take their assigned positions in defence and attack according to an invisible line drawn down the middle of the field.

The old language of inside-centre, outside-centre, loose-head prop and even five-eighth was replaced years ago with players split left and right. While Williams is lethal anywhere, he prefers to attack on the Roosters' right side.

So it would have suited Robinson, and concerned Bellamy, that SBW was built to attack the Storms' weakest flank.

But Bellamy would have consoled himself that he had an extra 24 hours to treat the injury of "left edge" player Brett Finch, whose sternum/shoulder caved in to Taylor's rampage.

Or given him an extra day to assess the comeback chances of regular No. 6 Gareth Widdop.

Manly's unexpected loss changed everything, with the Sea Eagles finishing fourth and Melbourne elevated to third.

Suddenly, at 3.30pm on Sunday, the plans of Robinson, Maguire and Bellamy were obsolete . . . for this week. The Roosters are now playing the Sea Eagles, while the Rabbitohs are meeting the Storm.

Bellamy could temporarily forget Williams, but he had 24 hours less to prepare for the Rabbitohs.

Melbourne have beaten Souths twice this season but the problems of a leaky left flank and a No. 6 with fitness doubts remain.

Manly, however, have an additional day to recover from their injuries against the Panthers, plus more time to treat the players who missed the match, including fullback Brett Stewart and second-rower Anthony Watmough. Cynics might also point to Manly's record against the Rabbitohs, who have beaten them twice this season, but their new opponents have also beaten them twice.

This was no conspiracy.

Some Manly players may have had the extra day's rest tucked in some corner of their brain but they lost to a Penrith team which showed more skill and desperation in the final minutes.

So the challenge for Maguire is to find a player who can rip through the Storm's left side.

Fullback Greg Inglis is an obvious choice but he prefers the left side, where he can use his lethal right-arm fend.

Today's coaches say it is almost impossible to shift players from one side of the field to the other.

Players become educated as left or right players from their teens and develop a favoured shoulder to tackle, a side to pass, a preferred step.

Move them to the other half of the field and they are out of their comfort zone. Maguire might have a surprise visitor down the Storm's left and Bellamy may have have a shock counter, but essentially it comes down to this: the best way to stop the Taylors, SBWs and GIs is something all players learn before their teens.

Tackle them around the legs.