The Manly Sea Eagles will head to the November 1 deadline with significant questions, but not a whole lot of wiggle room within their salary cap.
That leaves the club still needing to pick up a few pieces of their long-term puzzle as they look for a full blown rebuild and chase of a return to the finals under Anthony Seibold, but in a tricky balancing act.
2026 is likely to be the bigger moving year for Manly, particularly if Daly Cherry-Evans decides to hang up the boots, but for now, Zero Tackle will investigate what the club can reasonably expect and need for 2025 as we run the rule over every club ahead of November 1 in this series.
Current squad for 2025
Josh Aloiai, Jake Arthur, Luke Brooks, Ethan Bullemor, Daly Cherry-Evans, Ben Condon, Reuben Garrick, Aitasi James, Tolutau Koula, Dean Matterson, Haumole Olakau'atu, Brad Parker, Taniela Paseka, Jaxson Paulo, Jason Saab, Josh Schuster, Toafofoa Sipley, Tommy Talau, Jake Trbojevic, Tom Trbojevic, Christian Tuipulotu
Current best 17 for 2025
1. Tom Trbojevic
2. Reuben Garrick
3. Tolutau Koula
4. Brad Parker
5. Jason Saab
6. Luke Brooks
7. Daly Cherry-Evans
8. Taniela Paseka
9. No player signed.
10. Toafofoa Sipley
11. Haumole Olakau'atu
12. Josh Schuster
13. Jake Trbojevic
14. Jake Arthur
15. Ethan Bullemor
16. Josh Aloiai
17. Dean Matterson
Here are five players available to negotiate on November 1 from outside of the club the Sea Eagles could target for 2025 and beyond.
1. Jake Simpkin
Manly are relatively well set in their backline, but it's undoubtedly hooker and the forwards where questions reign supreme.
At this stage, the club are yet to re-sign Lachlan Croker. That is likely to happen at some point, but there are questions remaining about whether he should be playing the full 80 minutes each week.
Realistically, the answer, as it is for most dummy halves in the competition, is going to be returned as a resounding no. Manly also has Gordon Chan Kum Tong, but like Croker, he is yet to be re-signed despite the internal noise that he is the future of the club.
With the pace of the game and the strain on the role of dummy half throughout those 80 minutes each week, playing 80 minutes week in and week out is simply not a feasible option for a majority anymore, and only very few players can pull it off consistently.
That's not to say Croker hasn't done a good job for Manly - and he will likely be targetted by other clubs in a market with few quality hookers - but Manly needs a two-pronged attack. If Croker and Chan Kum Tong are re-signed, then that's it. If not, they need to go outside the club, and a player like Jake Simpkin, who has proven his ability to play in other positions outside of hooker while backing up Apisai Koroisau, could be a good option on the Northern Beaches.