With NRL action returning tomorrow, we lay down an extended preview for each club. Below is a look at the Sea Eagles.
Ins: Danny Levi (Knights), Luke Metcalf (upgraded from development contract), Brayden Musgrove (Knights)
Outs: Kane Elgey, Trent Hodkinson (retired), Apisai Koroisau (Panthers), Lloyd Perrett (unsigned)
In the 2019 pre-season, the majority of experts and fans alike had the Sea Eagles finishing well outside of the finals positions. I believe I had them 12th from memory.
To say they overachieved is probably unfair to a very talented roster and even better coach, however on paper they just didn’t look like they’d trouble the more established teams.
Built on a basis of AFB and Mart Taupau bashing sides senseless in both attach and defence, the Sea Eagles created a game plan that not many could match. On the back of quick play the balls DCE, Walker and the Trbojevic brothers ran riot.
Young Reuben Garrick had an incredible break out season while Moses Suli realised his undoubted potential. Few will forget the hit Taufua put on Cameron Munster. I swear the ground is still shaking.
Although they’d ultimately exit the competition in the second round of the finals, Manly restored their pride and image as one of the game’s elite clubs by trouncing old rivals the Sharks at Brookie in round one of knock out footy.
Predicted Best Player: Dally Cherry-Evans
The easy option here was to go with the incredible Tommy Turbo, however for mine the rep regular halfback is still the main man in the maroon of the Sea Eagles.
With one of the best kicking games in the code, DCE can control a game like few others. His running game is top few in terms of halves and his ability to turn a game with a big play is downright ridiculous.
Cherry-Evans makes every play around him better. He created a star out of young Cade Cust in the halves, and helped Suli and Garrick become instant first grade regulars.
I have him firmly in my top 10 players in the competition right now and I cannot see that changing in 2020.
Predicted Top Scorer: Tom Trbojevic
Garrick looks the favourite here but I’m predicting a Tommy Turbo masterclass in 2020. Another who comfortably makes anyone’s (with sense) top 10 list, the Manly fullback is set for a monster year.
Unfortunately he had an injury-affected 2019 which limited his try-scoring. That said he was still a star whenever he was on the field for club or state.
44 tries in 89 games is about to become around 60 tries or beyond at the end of the season. Anything less than 16 tries would shock me. Get him in those fantasy sides.
Des Hasler was forced to bring in a last minute replacement at hooker after yet another off-season incident saw one of his stars stood down.
Danny Levi is a former international number nine who was hugely underappreciated at the Knights. I think it’s a good signing, especially given the circumstances.
Levi has been named at number nine and although Lachlan Croker has been named on the bench, will feature with big minutes this season. Good pick up.
2020 Final Position: 8th
As I type the above, I’m second guessing myself here. Perhaps the Sea Eagles are set for a higher than 8th place finish after a pretty incredible 2019 season.
DCE, Jake and Tom Trbojevic are three of the best players in the competition, with two certain top tens and a top 15, while Dylan Walker, AFB and Marty Taupau aren’t a bad supporting cast either.
Throw in recent 9s star Garrick, the super consistent Thompson and one of the game’s rising second rowers in Curtis Sironen and you’ve got a stacked squad.
The bench and squad depth looks a real issue here. It’s an inexperienced bench and with all due respect all four players could walk down the street and not be noticed.
The Manly reserves ran a horrible last in NSW Cup last year and they haven’t brought in troops.
If this run on 13 can stay fit, Manly could legit challenge for the four. Unfortunately Rugby League does not work that way.
There will be times they’re without Turbo, Jurbo and DCE, and I really worry about them during the Origin period.
They’ll win a stack of games, and win well, but they’ll drop almost as many games. Finals finish as I see a bit of a gap between the top 8 and bottom 8.