The Manly Sea Eagles enter 2024 with a major point to prove, and hopes Tom Trbojevic will be able to keep himself on the field.

Trbojevic has struggled to stay fit over the last two seasons, and it's wound up with Manly struggling through both seasons.

Anthony Seibold has now had a year in charge though, and the excuses around Trbojevic not being fit can't continue after some major off-season risks in the recruitment department.

The much-maligned Luke Brooks arrives on the Northern Beaches from the Wests Tigers, and a number of outside backs will be fighting for positions, with a handful of other key changes throughout the 17 likely to shape the season ahead for Manly.

Here is how the Sea Eagles line up in 2024.

Recruitment report

Ins: Luke Brooks (Wests Tigers, 2027), Nathan Brown (Parramatta Eels, 2024), Bailey Hodgson (Newcastle Knights, 2024), Aitasi James (Wests Tigers, 2025), Jaxson Paulo (Sydney Roosters, 2026), Tommy Talau (Wests Tigers, 2025), Corey Waddell (Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs, 2024), Brandon Wakeham (Wests Tigers, 2024)

NRL Pre-Season - Sea Eagles v Rabbitohs

Outs: Latu Fainu (Wests Tigers), Samuela Fainu (Wests Tigers), Morgan Harper (Parramatta Eels), Sean Keppie (South Sydney Rabbitohs), Kelma Tuilagi (Parramatta Eels), Christian Tuipulotu (St George Illawarra Dragons), Kaeo Weekes (Canberra Raiders)

Re-signed: Jake Arthur (2025), Ethan Bullemor (2025), Gordon Chan Kum Tong (2024), Lachlan Croker (2026), Reuben Garrick (2026), Jamie Humphreys (2024), Tolutau Koula (2027), Dean Matterson (2025), Brad Parker (2025), Taniela Paseka (2026), Josh Schuster (2027), Toafofoa Sipley (2025), Ben Trbojevic (2027), Raymond Tuaimalo Vaega (2024)

Off-contract at the end of 2023: Nathan Brown, Gordon Chan Kum Tong, Zac Fulton, Jamie Humphreys, Karl Lawton, Matthew Lodge, Fletcher Meyers, Raymond Tuaimalo Vaega, Corey Waddell

Full squad

Josh Aloiai, Jake Arthur, Luke Brooks, Nathan Brown, Ethan Bullemor, Gordon Chan Kum Tong, Daly Cherry-Evans, Ben Condon, Lachlan Croker, Zac Fulton, Reuben Garrick, Jamie Humphreys, Aitasi James, Tolutau Koula, Karl Lawton, Matthew Lodge, Dean Matterson, Haumole Olakau'atu, Brad Parker, Taniela Paseka, Jaxson Paulo, Jason Saab, Josh Schuster, Toafofoa Sipley, Tommy Talau, Ben Trbojevic, Jake Trbojevic, Tom Trbojevic, Raymond Tuaimalo Vaega, Corey Waddell

Supplementary contracts: Fletcher Meyers

For a full profile of every contracted player, download Zero Tackle's 2024 NRL season guide for FREE!

Who plays where?

This is the easiest selection at the Sea Eagles until it's not. Tom Trbojevic will quite clearly be the starting fullback, but as it is every season, the question will be whether he can stay fit throughout the course of the campaign.

If he can't, then it's likely Reuben Garrick, who has done an excellent job in recent seasons filling in for Trbojevic, will again be at the back.

The Sea Eagles may also look at gun centre Tolutau Koula though, who can also play fullback, but has been given limited opportunities there so far in his career.

The loss of Kaeo Weekes to the Raiders combined with the number of outside backs available, means it's unlikely Manly will bring in a player from outside the squad to play in the number one jersey.

The Sea Eagles, despite the late off-season loss of Christian Tuipulotu to the St George Illawarra Dragons, have plenty of options at their disposal.

Jason Saab will undoubtedly start the year on one wing, with the tall winger improving his game but looking for further improvements this year, particularly in terms of ball handling and defence.

Jaxson Paulo, who joined the club during the off-season, is likely to win the race for the other wing spot with all talk suggesting Reuben Garrick is moving into the centres.

Tommy Talau and Raymond Tuaimalo Vaega are the likely options elsewhere to slot in on the wing if there are injury or form issues on the beaches.

The aforementioned move of Garrick into the centres means he will take one spot, with Tolutau Koula to retain his iron grip on the other centre spot.

That means Brad Parker drifts out of favour and won't feature at centre this year, with it understood he has spent the off-season becoming a back-rower in a similar transition to the one Connell Lemuelu made two years ago at the North Queensland Cowboys - he is now in the fight for significant minutes at the Dolphins.

Beyond Parker, who could still be among the reserves at centre, both Jaxson Paulo and Tommy Talau could also line up at centre, while Ben Trbojevic is also able to play in the centres, but is more likely to be used in the forwards.

Dean Matterson is another option, but the utility is likely to get a run elsewhere throughout the year.

NRL Rd 11 - Sea Eagles v Sharks

As has been the case for many, many years now at the Sea Eagles, Daly Cherry-Evans is the key man in the halves and will again wear the number seven jumper.

The club and Queensland State of Origin captain's kicking game is second to none, and his game management is among the best in the competition.

What that has done is allow the Sea Eagles to take a punt at five-eighth, signing the much-maligned Luke Brooks from the Wests Tigers throughout the off-season.

Brooks will run out in the number six for the Sea Eagles this year, with Josh Schuster moving back to the forwards. Jake Arthur is the most realistic backup options for both halves.

Middle forwards
In the middle third of the park, Manly will continue to look for improvements.

Jake Trbojevic continues to be the pack leader, although, if Anthony Seibold makes a big call, he should be a starting prop this year.

The requirements of a modern day lock, to ball-play, be quick-footed and essentially be a third half in a forward's body don't suit Trbojevic. As he has proven at State of Origin level though, tackling, running and not having extra responsibility does.

He should be joined up front by Taniela Paseka, who has quickly become a breakout star for Seibold's side. All of that means Josh Aloiai should start at lock.

Toafofoa Sipley, who starts the season suspended, is among the best of the back-up brigade, while the arrival of Aitasi James from the Tigers adds depth to the forward pack. Matt Lodge, who misses the start of the year injured, Nathan Brown, Ethan Bullemor, Ben Condon and Zac Fulton are among the other players who will likely be on the list to feature in the middle throughout the year.

Lachlan Croker has quickly turned himself into a recognised starting number nine at NRL level in recent years, and will continue to play that role for the Sea Eagles this year after originally being moved there as a stop-gap measure.

His work rate in defence and improving service means he is no chance of losing the jersey, although it's unclear whether he will be needed to play 80 minutes or not this year.

There are plenty of back-up options at dummy half for Manly, with the likes of Gordon Chan Kum Tong, Karl Lawton and Jamie Humphreys all able to slot into the number nine jumper.

Edge forwards
On the edge, Josh Schuster will be looking to return to the form which made him a breakout star in 2021 just two years after he had captained the New South Wales Under-19 team as a second-rower.

The injury-plagued utility, who played five-eighth last year, will be joined in the second row by boom star Haumole Olakau'atu, who has signed on long-term with the Sea Eagles and can focus on landing an Origin jersey this year.

Ben Trbojevic is likely the next man up for the Sea Eagles, while Corey Waddell's return to the club adds depth, with the likes of Dean Matterson, Brad Parker, Karl Lawton, Ben Condon and Ethan Bullemor are also in the squad.

At full strength, the biggest question on Manly's bench will be who plays the 14 role - we have Gordon Chan Kum Tong as the most likely one to spend a chunk of the season there, but there are certainly options.

Ben Trbojevic also certainly features on Manly's bench, able to play centre or second-row, while the remaining two spots belong to middle forwards, with Toafofoa Sipley and Aitasi James the most likely to feature, although the experience of Matt Lodge or Nathan Brown could force a change throughout the year.

The best 17

1. Tom Trbojevic
2. Jason Saab
3. Reuben Garrick
4. Tolutau Koula
5. Jaxson Paulo
6. Luke Brooks
7. Daly Cherry-Evans
8. Taniela Paseka
9. Lachlan Croker
10. Jake Trbojevic
11. Haumole Olakau'atu
12. Josh Schuster
13. Josh Aloiai

14. Gordon Chan Kum Tong
15. Ben Trbojevic
16. Aitasi James
17. Toafofoa Sipley

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