We’re counting down every club’s best 17 in the NRL era.
Up next are the Sea Eagles, here is their best line-up over that period:
- Brett Stewart 2003-16, 233 games, 163 tries
The Prince of ‘Brookie’ played out an incredible career, but he could have achieved so much more if injury troubles didn’t disrupt him. Stewart was an electric no.1 who constantly eluded the defensive line. He scored at least 14 tries in a season on eight occasions for Manly and played a major role in their 2008 and 2011 premierships.
- Michael Robertson 2006-11, 150 games, 68 tries
The speedy winger joined from Canberra in 2006 and enjoyed a very successful six-year spell at Manly. Robertson was an incredibly consistent player and he only missed seven games in six seasons, playing 139 consecutive games from Round 2, 2006 to Round 10, 2011. He scored a famous hat-trick in the ‘08 Grand Final rout of Melbourne and won the 2011 title in his last match for the club.
- Jamie Lyon 2007-16, 224 games, 86 tries
Jamie Lyon returned from three years out of the NRL to the rivals of his ex-team, Parramatta, and never looked back. Lyon immediately became a crucial cog in his new side, playing at five-eighth for his first two seasons, where he achieved back-to-back grand final appearances. He ventured back into the centres permanently after Kieran Foran’s emergence, and was always reliable.
- Steve Matai 2005-16, 230 games, 91 tries
Lyon’s long-time centre partner, Steve Matai, was one of the hardest-hitting players in the game on his day. He was also no stranger to the try-line, producing 91 tries in his career. Unfortunately, injury disrupted his later playing days and forced him into early retirement, but his contribution to the club was incredibly valuable over 12 years.
- David Williams 2008-15, 103 games, 66 tries
The ‘Wolfman’ burst onto the scene virtually out of nowhere in 2008. A Parramatta junior, Williams was one of a few lucky players to taste premiership success in their debut season. But it’s not like he didn’t contribute, Williams scored 14 tries in 20 games, with one of those coming in the GF. Had his best season in 2013, scoring 20 tries in 27 games but injury also forced him into early retirement.
- Kieran Foran 2009-15, 147 games, 34 tries
The Kiwi five-eighth hasn’t had the best time on the pitch in the last few years since leaving Manly, a club where he became one of the most devastating five-eighths in the league. Foran broke into the side in 2009, showcasing enormous confidence and raw talent. His decisiveness in attack and grit in defence made him a much-loved player on the Northern Beaches.
- Daly Cherry-Evans 2011-current, 212 games, 55 tries
‘DCE’ was handed his debut at the beginning of 2011 to replace Trent Hodkinson, and the young Queenslander immediately had an impact. In one of the greatest debut seasons the NRL has seen, Cherry-Evans played all 27 games, notching up seven tries and 19 try assists. While not adding to his premiership tally, he has remained as the no.7 and key man for Manly for almost a decade.
- Jason King 2003-14, 217 games, 9 tries
King made a name for himself at Manly as a hard-nosed prop forward who set the tone for a decade of a core leadership group at the club which would go on to last a decade. Debuting at Northern Eagles, King stayed on with Manly and became a club legend and a co-captain with Jamie Lyon. King also achieved NSW rep duties in 2010 and 2011 after a number of consistent years.
- Matt Ballin 2007-15, 217 games, 22 tries
Ballin ranks inside the top 10 for all-time Manly appearances and top six for the NRL era. Ballin debuted in 2007 as an understudy to Michael Monaghan but he secured a full-time starting role in 2008. Ballin was a long-time figure of consistency for the Sea Eagles, playing in and starting every single game from Round 1, 2008 to Round 25, 2014 (195 games).
- Brent Kite 2005-13, 221 games, 12 tries
Already a NSW rep forward, Kite joined Manly in 2005 where he quickly progressed into an Australian representative too. Kite spent nine years at Manly but he hit the peak of his powers in 2008 where a dominant performance earnt him the Clive Churchill Medal in the Grand Final where he also picked up a try.
- Anthony Watmough 2003-14, 278 games, 71 tries
‘Choc’ was an outstanding servant to the Sea Eagles before he left for a solitary season with the Eels. Watmough was a destructive ball-runner, armed with a killer offload, an admirable work ethic and plenty of aggression. Watmough won the Dally M second-rower of the year award on two occasions and he also rarely missed a game.
- Steve Menzies 1998-99, 2003-08, 177 games, 80 tries
Steve Menzies was in his sixth year when the NRL era began and was an unbelievable try-scoring machine in the back row, scoring 20 tries in the 1998 season. Menzies was a regular in the NSW Origin picture and also represented Australia 13 times. The curtain on his Manly career was pulled at the end of 2008 when he scored a try in the demolition job of the Storm.
- Glenn Stewart 2003-14, 185 games, 27 tries
The older brother of Brett, Glenn Stewart was a multi-talented footballer who was capable of conjuring up something out of nothing. Debuting in 2003, Glenn was a late-bloomer and didn’t make his 20th NRL appearance until 2007 when he finally cemented himself in the side. He quickly became a crucial back-rower to the side, winning the 2011 Clive Churchill Medal for a special performance against the Warriors.
- Matt Orford 2006-09, 98 games, 17 tries
Matt Orford joined from Melbourne in 2006, six years after debuting with the Northern Eagles. Orford guided the side back to competitive status when it came to the semi-finals, taking them to their first grand final and grand final win since 1996. Orford’s influential 2008 campaign resulted in the little no.7 taking out the Dally M medal.
- Jake Trbojevic 2013-19, 115 games, 25 tries
With the end of an era of long-serving players retiring, a new one begun with Mona Vale products, the Trbojevic brothers. Jake has quickly gained seniority value at the club and he puts in enormous performances week in week out, carrying a heavy workload and achieving high effectiveness in both attack and defence.
- Ben Kennedy 2005-06, 42 games, 10 tries
Kennedy was in the twilight of his career as he joined Manly but the steely lock’s resolve and determination helped take Manly back into finals football. He took out the Dally M lock of the year in both his seasons at the club, secured captain of the year in 2006 and was still performing to the level required to still get called up to the Kangaroos squad in his final season.
- Tom Trbojevic 2015-19, 88 games, 44 tries
‘Tommy Turbo’ had to bide his time on the wing while Brett Stewart still held onto the fullback role but it allowed him to gain experience before he was thrust into the no.1 jumper. Tommy’s influence is huge on the Manly side and sorely missed whenever he is out of the side. Scoring at a rate of a try every two games, it’s not just his attack that catches the eye, but his ability to save a try as well.