2010 Position: 8th (12 wins, 12 losses)
The Manly Sea Eagles managed to win enough games in 2010 to qualify for the finals despite a massive injury toll. The experience of Manly’s key players contributed to their top 8 form following a few successful seasons which included reaching the Grand Final twice in back to back years.
Questions were raised whether Manly could be competitive in 2010 with the most inexperienced halves pairing in the NRL of Kieran Foran and Trent Hodkinson following Matt Orford’s departure. However they proved to handle themselves quite well, both as individuals and a team. In 2011, young five-eighth Kieran Foran will be partnering Daly Cherry-Evans and no doubt will have great expectations placed on him to form a good combination in Manly’s bid to be competitive at the end of the season and possibly the finals series.
Injuries derailed and unfortunately brought Manly’s 2010 season to an end with Brett Stewart and David Williams missing most of the season, as well as up to a dozen players unavailable due to injuries for their first week final against St George Illawarra.
What went right in 2010: After a more forgettable season compared to previous years, despite qualifying for the finals, inspirational skipper Jamie Lyon remained a consistent player and quality leader. His experience and good form helped Manly week by week despite battling a few small injury problems of his own. Promising players Kieran Foran, William Hopoate, George Rose and Daly Cherry-Evans will look to make their mark in the 2011 season. Hooker Matt Ballin continued his good form since making the number 9 jersey his own, earning himself a spot in the Queensland State of Origin side.
What went wrong in 2010: The first problem was consistency. Coach Des Hasler would have been furious at some of the leads Manly gave up against sides that had no right winning the match. There is no doubt he will be toughening them up during the off-season to reassure it will happen as little as possible during 2011. The second problem was injuries. Manly went into their first week of the finals with roughly a dozen players unavailable and spent the later stages of the 2010 with injuries to key players. Losing star players Brett Stewart and David Williams to season ending injuries was also a massive blow.
Final say for 2011: Like 2010, a lot may depend on how the halves combination of Kieran Foran and Dale Cherry Evans perform. If forwards Anthony Watmough, George Rose, Brent Kite, Jason King and Glenn Stewart are able to do the hard work up front, the halves combination will be able to do their job. Expect George Rose, who is reportedly 7kg lighter, to build on a solid start to the 2010 season. With the likely return of Brett Stewart and David Williams, Manly will be looking forward to starting 2011 with their best possible squad. Brett Stewart is fully fit for 2011 and reportedly not lost any speed which will be reassuring for Manly fans. They will be looking to address the fitness and speed issues with Donny Singhe training them hard. Last year’s fitness regime has been replaced with the 2008 one. Whether the new training regime reflects with on field results and less injuries is a different matter and one that fans will keep a close eye on.