Manly, along with Parramatta, has been one of the over-achievers of 2017.
Under coach, Trent Barrett, the Sea Eagles were desperate to make the finals. Outside of the Northern Eagles years, the last time Manly failed to make the finals three years in a row was back in 1965, under the coaching of another “outsider”, Russ Pepperill.
As Manly continue to nudge the top four, here are five reasons why they can go all the way this year; and five reasons they may fall short.
5 reasons Manly can win the Premiership
When Manly won the competition in 2011, there was talk that Daly Cherry-Evans could be viewed in the same light as Bob Fulton at Brookvale. The world was at his feet. A test regular, and Origin fill-in, Cherry-Evans was the form player of the competition.
Internal friction at the club, a protracted contract saga, and the loss of key players around him saw Cherry-Evans struggle in recent years. In 2017, Cherry-Evans had been one of the best players not just for the Sea Eagles, but in the NRL. At his best, he can turn a game on its head with a 40/20, or a well-timed pass or kick that sets up a crucial try. Manly can’t win the competition without him.
While Tom Trbojevic, rightly, gets most of the media attention for his scintillating try scoring ability, it is his older brother Jake that is arguably more important to the Sea Eagles’ quest for premiership glory. Seemingly entrenched in the New South Wales and Australian squads, Jake’s tireless defensive efforts, and under rated attacking prowess has helped Manly at crucial times throughout the season.
It was only three years ago that Dylan Walker was a key part of the South Sydney side that defeated Canterbury in the Grand Final to secure their first premiership since 1971. Walker, after an ill-fated season at five-eighth, has returned to the centres this year and has been in blistering form. At his best, he can cut an opposing defence to ribbons.
Not since Kieran Foran left Brookvale has Daly Cherry-Evans found a foil at the scrum base. Green, a journeyman player by any definition, brings consistency to the Sea Eagles and allows the star number seven to do his thing. More importantly, Green spent time at the Storm under Craig Bellamy and knows how to get to the big end of season games.
THE SEIGE MENTALITY
No One Likes Us And We Don’t Care. Manly fans have been chanting the mantra for nearly fifty years. And it works. Remember Brett Stewart’s feud with David Gallop? The Silvertails era? Super League? Manly are at their best when they feel it is them against the world. The drama around their salary cap issues may be enough of a spark to ignite the siege mentality.