SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - SEPTEMBER 14: Sea Eagles fans support during the NRL Elimination Final match between the Manly Sea Eagles and the Cronulla Sharks at Lottoland on September 14, 2019 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

Pre-Season Prediction: 11th

Actual Finish: 6th


– Home ground advantage is back: For years and years Brookie was the most difficult away trip of the season.

Over the past few years Manly lost that aura at home.

In 2019 Manly won 7 out of their 10 regular season games at Brookie and destroyed the Sharks in a home final.

They took a game to Christchurch which they also won, although they did lose their yearly Suncorp home game.

– Des’s Boys: Des Hasler returned and so did pride in the jersey.

They won games they probably shouldn’t have based on effort and heart.

Players expected to bounce around between first grade and Blacktown made representative sides.

Fans came back in droves, as did the competition points. The Des effect in full swing. Hard to explain but it’s definitely there, ask any Sea Eagles fan.

– Fringe Players come good: Parker, Elliot, Garrick. Three names of players who exceeded all expectations in 2019.

Reuben Garrick was signed from the Cutters in the NSW Cup to provide an option on the wing. His performances were such that he represented the Pms XIII and played 9s for the Kangaroos.

He scored 16 tries and landed conversions from everywhere. Was in the discussion for rookie of the year early on.

Brendan Elliot played more footy than was originally expected due to injuries and suspension and had a career best year.

Parker also had his best year in the top grade and travelled to Fiji to play with the PMs XIII.

Addin Fonua-Blake: Those who follow me on social media will know I’m loathe to praise AFB but he had a brilliant 2019 and became a top five prop.


– 0 from 2: The season could not have started off worse for Manly with two straight losses to open their account.

Tommy Turbo missed early season action after he was ridiculously risked in a pre season game in the pouring rain

Dylan Walker was stood down and spent most of his off-season in the papers.

A first up 20-6 loss to the Tigers provided plenty of us with enough evidence to support pre season predictions of Manly missing the eight.

Although plenty of sides lost to the Chooks, a fairly tame return to Brookie did little to change minds.

It wasn’t until round three that the Sea Eagles hit the competition board. It would prove to be a false reading considering what was to come.

– Off-Field Distractions: Without going into the events, Manlys season was just as much about off field distractions as it was finals footy.

Dylan Walker’s off season was well documented, and unfortunately it looks like another busy off season with Joel Thompson’s injury and the upcoming dramas in court.

That is for another time however it now looks like Manly need to recruit a number nine for at least the early part of 2020, a distraction they did not need to say the least.

Star Player: Daly Cherry-Evans

The Manly megastar had another brilliant season. He had 21 try assists, which is a career best across a season.

DCE was the maestro on many occasions and outside of Moses was the form halfback of 2019.

A star at every level of the game, DCE arguably has the best kicking game in rugby league. He dictated largely where the game would be played, especially at Brookie.

Season Grading: B

Surely no one saw this coming. Manly were outside nearly everyone’s top eight in the pre-season and even shortened in wooden spoon better following their opening fortnight.

Fast forward to the second week of the finals and it was only a rampant and fast finishing Souths side, bouyed on by a manly sin binning, that ended their campaign.

Haslers return was always going to provide a boost but this was far beyond what was expected.

Manlys big three stars all had brilliant years, despite some injury concerns, while the likes of Sironen and Thompson played well beyond their roles.

Garrick had a brilliant debut season, young Fainu played so well that Manly released their former number one number nine. Walker returned to form following his off-field distractions.

The forwards dominated, Manlys stars shone and everyone else did more than what was expected.

Overall the second week of finals was a huge success for a rebuilding club.

Simply put Des has Manly being manly again, and I, like everyone else not wearing the sea eagle, hate that!


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