It’s a new era at Brookvale. Club legends Anthony Watmough and Glenn Stewart were moved on last season, while fellow club legend Geoff Toovey joins them this season.
Manly had, by their lofty standards, a season to forget. Despite a two point win against old sparing partners the Storm, Manly’s start to the season was so bad that they couldn’t recover.
Players seemed more interested in the media circus and big dollar contracts being floated, then the job at hand, and it cost Manly finals footy, the Toovey his job.
Despite the poor results, 2015 was not all doom and gloom, as two young brother emerged, while the club managed to retain their star halfback.
Season Highlight: Games against the Storm and Sharks
Although some things change, i.e. Manly missing the finals, some things stay the same, i.e. Manly beating Manly and Cronulla.
They managed to upset the Storm on two occasions, while denying their old enemy the Sharks fourth spot despite having little to play for themselves.
If Manly fans can take anything out of this season, it’s that they still had these kind of performances in them.
That being said, given the amount of losses suffered, the Sea Eagles would have liked a few more fixtures against the Sharks and Storm.
Season Lowlight: Missing finals footy
We have come to expect Manly’s presence come finals time, such has been their success in modern times.
Considering the roster at their disposal, there is absolutely no excuse for Manly missing the eight.
At times they looked like the world beaters we have come to know, but those games were few and far between.
Manly didn’t have the greatest of luck with injuries, however they were far from the most adversely affected side either.
Simply put, they weren’t good enough all season, and didn’t deserve to play finals.
Star Player: Jake Trbojevic
It’s not often a rookie front rower is named as the club’s best player, but Jake Trbojevic had an outstanding debut season.
His efforts in his 24 games for Manly were enough to earn him a Prime Minister’s XI jersey, and has him placed firmly in Origin talk for 2016, if he can continue his good form.
At times he almost played a lone hand in an often badly beaten Manly pack, but he himself did not lose too many battles.
Considering where he is at in his career, the sky is the absolute limit for the 21 year-old.
Most Disappointing Player: Kieran Foran
To be honest, Foran was not Manly’s worst player. He was their most disappointing though, as off-field distractions played a part in disrupting his focus, and form, in 2015.
Only once his future was sorted did Foran show anything even close to the form expected of the superstar Kiwi international.
Even then, he was well below his best. He really struggled without his partners in crime in Watmough and Stewart by his side.
Foran owes Manly nothing, and was an absolute superstar during his time at Brookvale, however his final season was not amongst his best for the club.
Future Star: Tom Trbojevic
He may have only played nine times in 2015 but the youngster known as Tommy Turbo has shown enough to suggest he is going to be something special.
Eight tries in his nine games, and with speed to burn, I believe one of Barrett’s first actions will be to find a place for young Tom in the first grade side.
With Lyon likely to shift to the halves, Turbo will likely ease into first grade on the wing, before taking over the fullback role long term.
He was the star in Manly’s brilliant Holden Cup campaign, although he will earn much higher honours in his NRL career.
Best Signing For 2016/: Nate Myles
Although I believe Matt Parcell will be the long term star out of the recruits for 2016, Nate Myles joining the club will assist Jake Trbojevic in a huge way.
I’d say those two will join forces in the Manly front row in round one, forming one of the competition’s premier front rows.
Myles will make plenty of metres, will make even more tackles, and will provide a leader for the young forwards in the Manly ranks.
He may not be the player he once was, but in terms of what he brings to the club as a package, I expect him to be one of the top recruits next season, NRL-wide.
The Sea Eagles have lost a genuine world class playmaker in Foran, however they have recruited very, very well.
Myles and Brown add serious punch to the troublesome forward pack, while Matt Parcell and Apisai Koroisau will bring with them plenty of potency in attack.
With Tommy Turbo joining the likes of Matai, Hiku, Stewart, and Taufua in the backline, Manly should score plenty of points.
A lot will depend on how Jamie Lyon slots back into five-eighth, but he has had success there in the past, including occupying the position in the club’s 40-nil Grand Final win over the Storm.
Trent Barrett has a big opportunity in front of him, although the pressure will be on from the word go. Manly fans do not tolerate failure.
Season Grading: D
A fair few sides would be quite happy finishing just one spot outside of finals footy. Manly are not one of those sides.
They avoid an “F” grading as they had some big wins, and launched a late assault at finishing eighth, however considering the line-up they possess, that’s not good enough either.
Some fans predicted trouble with both of their star halves coming off contract, and the media circus that would follow. They were right.
Manly’s terrible start to the season cost them big. By the time DCE and Foran sorted out their futures and were able to fully focus on the task at hand, the season was too far gone.
I’m sure a Manly fan will correct me here, but I honestly can’t remember the last time they missed the finals. (it was 2004, thanks google)