You’d struggle to be more torn before a big National Rugby League (NRL) match.

But Darrell Williams — the former Kiwis centre, current test selector and 1987 grand final winner with Manly — is tipping the New Zealand Warriors to continue their fairytale run against his beloved northern Sydney club in Saturday night’s grand final qualifier.

With one proviso.

“If this is being read in New Zealand, then yes,” he quipped.

Seriously though, Williams is confident of a Warriors upset at the Sydney Football Stadium after their back-to-back wins over the Storm and Roosters.

“Absolutely. The Warriors are showing things they haven’t shown for a while, that’s a new grit and discipline. They’re on a roll and every team in the competition is taking notice,” Williams said.

“They’re playing with good confidence and showed some really good signs coming back in the second half (against the Roosters on Friday). That wasn’t typical of them in the past, so it looks like they’ve got some new resolve which is a real positive.

“Their wins from eighth place gave them a huge self-belief. No team’s done that before so it was a huge psychological barrier winning that game (against Melbourne).

“The Sea Eagles are in for a really tough night and it’s up to them to come and get the Warriors, I reckon.”

But, according to most Australian pundits, there’s only one team in it.

TAB Sportsbet installed Manly $A1.42 favourites to beat the Warriors ($A2.75) and face Melbourne or Cronulla in the grand final.

Manly also shortened to $A2.65 to win their first premiership in 12 years, with Melbourne drifting to $A2.25 with the uncertainty of captain Cameron Smith’s involvement, and the Warriors and Sharks at $A6.50 apiece.

While Williams plumped for the Warriors on Saturday, he felt Manly deserved to be premiership favourites.

“Manly are very solid and they’ve shown less chinks in their armour than Melbourne.

“They’re probably the most solid side in the comp without being the flashiest.

“But if their forwards are held by the Warriors forwards then they’re in for a real battle.”

One factor that would favour the Sea Eagles, coached by Williams’ 1987 teammate Des Hasler, was their 8-34 hammering from the Storm in the grand final a year ago.

“They’ve been through some hard times and it was heartbreaking last year. Even Melbourne had to lose a grand final to win one,” Williams said.

“Des is a thorough professional and a bit of an under-rated coach. Look at the team he’s got? He’s done a remarkable job and like the players, he would have learned a lot from last year’s loss.”

Williams will do it tough in the grandstand on Saturday, 21 years after his side beat Canberra 18-8 in the decider.

He’ll be there as Kiwis selector with an eye to next month’s World Cup, but his Manly connections remain strong.

He still lives on the northern beaches, managed Manly’s iconic Steyne Hotel for eight years, and shares a traditional pre-grand final beer there with his old Mt Albert clubmates each year.

He’s also organising a reunion of former Manly first graders for Friday next week, so a Sea Eagles win on Saturday would be ideal.

“They’ll all come out of the woodwork, about 100-150 of them. (Former teammate) Cliffy Lyons rang yesterday and he wants 1000 tickets for Saturday — I don’t know where he expects me to get them from,” Williams said.

“My heart still lies in New Zealand. I live in Australia and I’m still very much involved with the Manly club, but I’ll always be a Kiwi.”