SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 23: Daly Cherry-Evans of the Sea Eagles attempts a kick from the sideline to level the scores a full-time during the round 24 NRL match between the Wests Tigers and the Manly Sea Eagles at Campbelltown Sports Stadium on August 23, 2018 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

Des Hasler has returned to a Manly club desperate to return to finals footy. Can he and his "big three" take the Sea Eagles back to the promised land?

2019 Gains

Jade Anderson (2019), Cade Cust (2019), Kane Elgey (Gold Coast Titans, 2020), Brendan Elliot (Gold Coast Titans, 2019), Reuben Garrick (St George Illawarra Dragons, 2019), Trent Hodkinson (Cronulla Sharks, 2019), Albert Hopoate (2019), Sean Keppie (2019), Semisi Kioa (2019), Luke Metcalf (2019), Haumole Olakau'atu (2019), Corey Waddell (Penrith Panthers, 2019)

2019 Losses

Lewis Brown (retired), Jackson Hastings (Salford Red Devils), Brian Kelly (Gold Coast Titans), Shaun Lane (Parramatta Eels), Darcy Lussick (Toronto Wolfpack), Joey Lussick (Salford Red Devils), Akuila Uate (Huddersfield Giants), Jonathan Wright (retired), Tom Wright (rugby union)

2018 Recap

The Sea Eagles avoided the 2018 wooden spoon only due to one of the direst Parramatta sides of modern times being there. It was through no efforts of their own.

They were awful.

One and off the field, Manly were a basket case more often than not. They spent so much time in the headlines for the farcical coaching situation that still sees them paying Trent Barrett to literally stay away from training.

They released Blake Green thinking they would add Mitchell Pearce. When Pearce signed for the Knights, Manly's season was effectively over.

They missed the 2018 finals by more wins than they recorded across the season. Seven wins for the year, for a team containing three Origin stars and a Kiwi megastar, is just not on.

The salary cap scandal finally looks behind them, while Des Hasler has been brought back. They've recruited a halves partner for DCE and can surely only improve on a terrible 2018 season.

Best Signing: Kane Elgey

The signing of Kane Elgey looks like one that will suit both player and club. Elgey, a super talent, had fallen down the pecking order at the Titans and looks set for a fresh start.

The Sea Eagles took a huge punt last year releasing Blake Green without a ready-made replacement and it backfired in a big way.

Elgey's signing should ease the workload on DCE who was forced to play a lone hand at times in 2018.

Those with short memories may forget the way Elgey burst onto the scene. In 2015, his rookie year, he represented the PMs XI against PNG.

An ACL injury ended his rise and unfortunately he never really returned to his early career form. That said, he has the potential to be a long-term halves partner to DCE at Manly.

Young Gun/One To Watch: Albert Hopoate

Former Dragon Reuben Garrick seems to be the name on most experts lips, but if Walker isn't available in round one, it's young Albert Hopoate that I'd be running with.

There's footage of the young fullback, most likely to debut on the wing, scoring a length of the field try in the juniors where he breaks what looks like 20 tackles.

Manly need a break out youngster to come in with speed and elusiveness and young Hoppa has both in spades.

Elliott and Parker probably have an early jump but with doubts over Walker's NRL career, I would not be shocked to see Albert's name in discussion regardless of the outcome.

Most Important Player: Daly Cherry-Evans

I was very tempted to type the name Trbojevic (Tom) but Cherry-Evans is still the main man north of the Spit Bridge.

DCE copped undeserved criticism for Manly's dire 2018 season. Given the circus that surrounded his huge-money re-signing, the pressure will always follow him, but he was forced to play a lone role far too often last year.

Elgey's signing should help ease the pressure on DCE allowing him to play his game rather than everybody's game.

DCE has one of the best kicking games in the competition and can bust the line like few other halves.

He doesn't have the superstar supporting cast in the outside backs that he's had in years gone by but he's a talent that can lift those around him. Look for a huge year from DCE with the return of Hasler.

Recruitment Grade: D

With all due respect to the names on the list, outside of Kane Elgey and maybe Hopoate and Elliott, there isn't a whole lot of NRL first grade talent in their "gains" list.

Elgey, as mentioned, will slot straight into the halves after the club failed to replace Blake Green in 2018. Brendan Elliott and Albert Hopoate will be there or thereabouts in round one in the outside backs.

They really lacked depth in the forwards last year and having lost Lane, Brown and Lussick, they look threadbare again.

Unfortunately for Manly fans the NSW Cup and Jersey Flegg sides are not the club's strong point recently, and if a star is to emerge, it will out of nowhere.

Prediction: 11th

To be honest, when I looked at my list I couldn't believe I had Manly so high given the above run down.

Then I remembered the names Trbojevic (x2), Cherry-Evans, and Taupau. These are genuinely four of the NRL's biggest stars and almost automatic rep selections at any level.

Outside of the big four, Manly have the likes of Sironen and Thompson, two underrated forwards. Koroisau is a freakish talent, on his day.

Outside of that, well I think even the biggest Sea Eagles fan would agree that they're unlikely to push the likes of the Roosters, Souths and the like in terms of talent.

Des Hasler is a huge in. He knows the Manly club and seems to have revitalised the battered and almost broken club.

That said, his last season at the Dogs was akin to repeatedly headbutting the wall. They were awful. The way he had the halves playing was an embarrassment to the game.

In DCE, Hasler has a far superior half and thus should find far improved results.

I just can't see this side having the strike power outside of the big names mentioned above to win enough games to play finals.


  1. The issue with Manly, like a few clubs, is depth. Their team has more superstars than most. The two Turbos, DCE and Tapau are among the very best players in the game.

    If they have a way better than average run with injuries they will, IMO, go better than most believe.. A big If though, 10th for me

  2. After looking where they finished last season, viewing the list of nobodies they have purchased probably except for Elgey the 5/8. Then viewing the players they have lost in their best forward Shaun Lane, Brown, Brian Kelly, Lusick, Akuila Uate Jonathan Wright . I can only see this club with Hasler like Bennett past their use by date and functioning only on past glory reputation are heading for the Wooden Spoon. And a wooden spoon full of imports bar two local brother juniors.๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜†๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿคฃ๐Ÿ˜†๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜†๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿคฃ—-๐Ÿ’ช๐Ÿ”๐Ÿ‘—–๐Ÿ˜ฒ๐Ÿ˜ฎ๐Ÿ˜ฎ๐Ÿ˜ฎ๐Ÿ˜ฎ๐Ÿ˜ฎ๐Ÿ˜ฎ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

  3. Yeah because the Roosters are so well known for their local juniors. The lengths they go to to avoid raiding other nurseries should be an example to the other 15 clubs.

  4. Perhaps as a Roosters fan you could elaborate on how to go about collecting a spoon? Manly have no idea as weโ€™ve never collected one.
    Brad Parker, Albert Hopoate are a couple of other local juniors to add to the list. How many the the Roosters have? Wasnโ€™t Luke Ricketson the last one? Manly wonโ€™t make the 8 as theyโ€™re still running under the cap but will improve under Hasler.

  5. Lewis Brown, Johathan Wright, Brian Kelly and Darcy Lussick are all fringe first graders at best and should be replaced by fringe first graders like Perrett, Gosiewski, Elliott and Parker. Shaun Lane’s exit is replaced by the return of Curtis Sironen, Uate might be replaced by Hopoate or another junior. And one of Manly’s biggest problems in the last few years is the lack of back up for Cherry-Evans. Now they have Elgey and Hodkinson. So they shouldn’t be much worse than they were last year.

  6. Just can’t help yourself hey woodduck, everything is about the roosters, again bringing Souths into an article that has NO bearing, at least there are people on this site that don’t believe your development player crap, the only person your fooling is yourself when it comes to juniors, grow up.

  7. I hate Manly, but I dead set reckon they’ll shock a few people and be pushing for a top eight spot. Des is back where he belongs.

  8. Havenโ€™t you heard, Des will guide them back to the glory days and theyโ€™ll be premiers this year with DCE getting man of the match every week.

  9. Agree daffy, they’ will be there somewhere , it’s just Manly being Manly, Des back will propel them to a decent season.

  10. Take it from me Mark Souffths and Parra fans are probably better to ask but I would say you are deadest on coarse and should be the favourites. I can see how far Manly have fallen from the days they were able to buy grand final spots. What happened to the good old days when the bought McCabe, Brown, Boustead, Cleal, Gurr, Schubert of the Roosters or when the bought half the Wests team that belted them up during the 70’s. Mate Manly is in massive problems when their big signings are all rejects and I thought you said Albert Hopoate is a localโ“โ”โ“ What you went out and purchased a local๐Ÿคฃ๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜†๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿคฃ

    2019 Gains
    Jade Anderson (2019), Cade Cust (2019), Kane Elgey (Gold Coast Titans, 2020), Brendan Elliot (Gold Coast Titans, 2019), Reuben Garrick (St George Illawarra Dragons, 2019), Trent Hodkinson (Cronulla Sharks, 2019), Albert Hopoate (2019), Sean Keppie (2019), Semisi Kioa (2019), Luke Metcalf (2019), Haumole Olakau’atu (2019), Corey Waddell (Penrith Panthers, 2019)

    The Roosters latest champion local is Premiership winner Victor Radley ring a bell๐Ÿ’ช๐Ÿ”๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ˜ฎ๐Ÿ˜ฒ๐Ÿ˜ฎ๐Ÿ˜ฒ๐Ÿ˜ฎ๐Ÿ˜ฒ๐Ÿ˜ฎ๐Ÿ˜ฒ

    Brad whoโ“โ”โ“โ”โ“ Parker๐Ÿคฃ๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜†๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿคฃ sounds like the son of Daniel Boon, Fess Parker. Albert Hopoate, when is he due to play first grade … three years ๐Ÿ˜†๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿคฃ Any way Hasler could not get the Bulldogs attack clicking so with the 3/4 line out Brookie way it looks like he is a gorner.๐Ÿ’ช๐Ÿ”๐Ÿ‘

  11. ๐Ÿคฃ๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜†๐Ÿคฃ good one mate, If Manly go just the tiniest bit worse than last year they win their maiden spoon. The Eagles on the ocean came 2 points from picking up the spoon trophy.

  12. Agreed. If Des is the “answer” to anything in 2019 I can only assume the question was, “who was the coach when Manly got its first wooden spoon?”.
    11th? That’s probably about right, if they don’t sustain any significant injuries/suspensions to key players all season.

  13. What even Brisbane has been trying to buy a comp and they have Queenslands capital city to produce their very own juniors. 2.5 Mil people and they have to buy Bird, Tagataese, Lodge, Fensom, Milford O’Sullivan, Roberts, Tevita Pangai Junior just to name a few.

    We wont mention the players they purchased and let go in recent years, the likes of Korbin Simms, Adam Blair, Peter Wallace, Tautau Moga, Benji Marshall, Herman Ese’ese, Ben Barba, just proves that even Brisbane with 2.5 million people still need to buy a comp every now and then like every single team in the comp.๐Ÿ˜ฎ๐Ÿ˜ฎ๐Ÿ˜ฎ๐Ÿ˜ฎ๐Ÿ˜ฎOH What……Your not stunned at those FACTS. ๐Ÿ˜†๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿคฃ๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿคฃ๐Ÿ˜†๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿคฃ๐Ÿ˜‚. If not then you dam well should be.๐Ÿ’ช๐Ÿ”๐Ÿ‘

  14. EastOfDivide February 14, 2019 at 10:32 am
    Well a lot of Western Sydney teams can say exactly the same thing. Brisbane is now starting to get a lot of its players from NSW.
    If the new halfback Oโ€™Sullivan works out well up there, say thanks to Penrith.

    COTGD (Clown Of The Great Divide)๐Ÿคก๐Ÿคก๐Ÿคก๐Ÿคก๐Ÿคก is a firm believer that every club in Australia and NZ need a few Penrith players to be any good, Although Penrith dud Pete Wallis could not deliver your ponies tommyknockers a comp. The clown of the Divide has risen the same point as me that Brisbane are buying NSW players.๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜†๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿคฃ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

  15. By the way COTGD๐Ÿคก๐Ÿคก๐Ÿคก๐Ÿคก๐Ÿคก๐Ÿคก๐Ÿคก๐Ÿคก O’Sullivan made his NRL debut from the Sydney Roosters. Penrith could not get the best out of him, He peaked at the Roosters and played NRL, but that is just about all he will achieve being a Glenmore Park player. He has no hope of cracking the big time. That’s why Penrith have won only 2 comps in 52 years.๐Ÿ˜ฎ๐Ÿ˜ฎ๐Ÿ˜ฎ๐Ÿ˜ฎ๐Ÿ˜ฎ๐Ÿ˜ฎ๐Ÿ˜ฎ๐Ÿ˜ฎ๐Ÿ˜ฎ๐Ÿ˜ฎ๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜†๐Ÿคฃ

  16. The only fake is you wood. Stop trying to deflect from your own fraudulent behaviours.
    You FAKER. ๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚

  17. Yes it will and you know it. Donโ€™t worry, weโ€™ll all chip in and get you a bib for your birthday. You need it more than anyone on this site.

  18. Well Penrith released O’Sullivan to the Chickens , as his father was working for them at the time. Supposedly his father had close ties to the club. Couldn’t have been to close a tie there though, as he took up a new position at the Broncos . Before his son left to go there.
    As always , he was already a very good up & coming player before going for a short time to the Chickens. Or they wouldn’t have wanted him in the first place.
    Penrith have also produced many good halves of late ( as you’d know ) & couldn’t possibly fit them all in.
    You also said there were no Panthers in the squad at your Rorters. Didn’t have to look far in the 2018 squad to find O’Sullivan.
    As with with all the bought players , you think the Chicken nuggets should get lots of credit for putting them in the lower grades for a year or two. Then into first grade.
    Now you are quoting what I write? So you must respect my opinion above whatever you can actually think up yourself.
    Like the team of bought players you support. Nothing original with Woodworm.
    Getting worried about post Cronk hey Woodchips!!! None of the best halves came running to sign there !!!! Ha,Ha,Ha ….

  19. Just a quick look at your Nuggets players to go to Manly.
    Without even checking any histories of each player. The Cleal brothers came from the country & Boustead from Queensland.
    As much as things change , everything at the Chicken Nuggets stays the same hey Woodstacks.

  20. I reckon your mob have a better chance of grabbing that ๐Ÿฅ„ than any club this year. They were so lucky to get off to a great start last year without a single injury for the entire first half of the comp. But luck eventually runs out. And with their famous half season collapses, a poor start could easily earn you ANOTHER one of these ๐Ÿฅ„. Cant wait to hear your dribble then. ๐Ÿคฎ

  21. Hahaha, once again confirming you are the chief dribbler on this site. No worries then, if you think the dragons are specials for the spoon, put your money where your oversized mouth is and go and throw some coin on with centre bet or whatever other gambling site you can find. Bet you donโ€™t have stones to do it do you. And you know why too. Itโ€™s because deep down in that tiny brain of yours you know there is precisely zero chance of that happening. Your team on the other hand…….

  22. Clown of the Great Dividing Range๐Ÿคก๐Ÿคก๐Ÿคก๐Ÿคก๐Ÿคก๐Ÿคก๐Ÿคก like I said at the Roosters we have no Chocolate Soldiers playing for us IN 2019, you are talking about last season when we developed a kid from Penrith who wanted out of Penrith to come over and be close to his dad at the Roosters. Exactly like how Cleary re-singed with the pink panthers because they brought his father back to finalise a deal. Any way the Roosters will always be on his resume as the club that gave him a crack at NRL. NOT PENRITH. For the record he peaked at the Roosters. Our fantastically amazingly great coaching team got the best out of him, something Penrith could not do. Hence the FACT Debut Club Roosters๐Ÿ’ช๐Ÿ”๐Ÿ‘

  23. Cleary actually re signed before his dad signed on to coach there again. With no get out clause , if his father didn’t coach there in the future. So again, you have no clue.
    You have to try & take something from other teams great juniors debuting in first grade at the chicken nuggets, or you wouldn’t have much to talk about when it comes to players getting into first grade there.
    Even O’Sullivan would rather go straight to Brisbane , when dad went. Rather than wait until after Cronk was done & dusted at the Tri Colours. You said they’d only have to send out a message & all the best halves would come running to play there? Yet they tried to sign Cleary, Brooks & probably Johnson. None of them wanted to go there. Your so hoping Cronulla can’t keep Johnson. As maybe the Chickens can come up with a mystery million a season to get him. No room in the cap, but somehow?

  24. Haha wood d1ck. Ill give you shaun lane as a loss but telling us that Lewis Brown, Brian Kelly, Lusick, Akuila Uate and Jonathan Wright are losses proves one thing. You have no idea!

  25. That does not alter the FACT that Paul McCabe, Dave Brown, Kerry Boustead, Noel Cleal, Marty Gurr, Ian Schubert all debut in first grade at the Roosters then Manly bought them after they became seasoned players.๐Ÿคฃ๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜†๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ’ช๐Ÿ”๐Ÿ‘

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