SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - JULY 22: Daly Cherry-Evans of the Sea Eagles and team mates look dejected after a Roosters try during the round 19 NRL match between the Manly Sea Eagles and the Sydney Roosters at Lottoland on July 22, 2018 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

“I’ll rephrase that for you. You said we could win it, we will win it.”

Those were the words spoken by Manly Sea Eagles prop Marty Taupau early in the season. The side was brimming with confidence, and fancied their chances despite many writing them off before even a ball had been kicked. Unfortunately for Manly fans, the reality has been far from the prediction of their star forward. We all know the story of manly this season, and what an utter debacle it’s been for the players, and the club as an organization.

It started with an investigation into the club’s salary cap situation. The NRL’s integrity announced an investigation in July 2017, which was welcomed by the club. However, after the NRL had examined over 800,000 documents, emails and text messages, they came to the decision to fine the club $750,000 for breaches concerning 15 players over five years.

Compounded with that, $660,000 was deducted from their cap for the 2018 season. Manly became compliant with their reduced cap, and proceeded with their season as planned.

Their troubles were far from over though, as an innocent showcase of rugby league in the country town of Gladstone turned sour with a visit to a local strip club. Captain Daly Cherry-Evans and four other players that have remained unnamed visited ‘The Boardroom’ long after their curfew.

Later that night, Cherry-Evans and the remaining Manly contingent that attended the strip club were involved in a confrontation in Jackson Hastings’ hotel room. The incident had come after reports of a training ground bust up between the two playmakers at training a couple of weeks earlier.

The Sea Eagles later fined DCE and the four others for their behaviour, and held a team dinner which Hastings attended, where the club believed all disputes and disagreements between the pair were put behind them.

Boy were they wrong.

A heavy loss to Parramatta shortly after sparked a blame game between the players at Manly, and reignited the DCE/Hastings feud. Hastings was demoted to feeder club Blacktown by coach Trent Barrett, who was very public about his decision.

“He’ll be at Blacktown, he’s going to train at Blacktown,” Barrett said. “If it is to be at another club that would be terrific.”

He also added “This certainly isn’t a one-off incident. We have pretty well documented a lot of things over the past 12 months.”

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Stories were being spread by the media about Hastings already having been an outcast in the Manly playing group, which it appeared was a factor in Barrett’s decision to exile Hastings.

However, several Manly players later came out backing Hastings and defending his actions, which established a divide in the squad. The losses continued in the weeks that followed, and it was a long time before Manly found form again.

Things only got worse for Manly, with 21-year-old prodigal five-eighth Lachlan Croker succumbing to his third ACL injury and being ruled out for the season. The earlier salary cap pressures meant that Manly did not have the capacity to sign a replacement, and with their logical next choice playmaker being Jackson Hastings, Barrett had limited options.

Eventually they had to move centre Dylan Walker to 6, with bad-boy Moses Suli coming into the starting side at 3.

Following that, hooker Apisai Koroisau suffered from a fractured foot which doctors said would sideline him for eight weeks. After the hooker was dubbed a potential dark horse for a NSW origin jersey, the club suddenly had to look for a new hooker with games against the Dragons, Panthers and Storm being their next fixtures.

At the start of the season Manly’s backup hooker had been… you guessed it… Jackson Hastings. But he’d already been released entirely from the club to take up a deal with English Super League side Salford.

Manly rushed to name star 19-year-old Manase Fainu for their upcoming clash with the St George Ilawarra Dragons. He’d been one of Blacktown’s most consistent performers for the first half of the season, and shared many qualities with Koroisau.

However, despite being named to make his debut, the NRL blocked him from playing due to him not being a member of Manly’s initial 30-man squad at the start of the season. Instead, the Sea Eagles had to name centre Matthew Wright to play in a 32-8 loss.

After a week of seeking official permission from the NRL, Manly finally were able to line up Fainu for his debut for the club. A decent debut performance from him saw Manly topple the table topping Panthers for their first win in five games.

Finally, things looked to be on the up on the northern beaches, and Manly fans were jumping right aboard the Fainu train. However, not long later it came out that the Fainu had filmed a sexual act without consent, which he then posted on social media.

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Luckily for the Sea Eagles, the NRL policy on criminal offenses is to allow the player to play on until proven guilty. This has allowed Fainu to continue to play since being named against the Panthers.

However, he is scheduled to face court in the coming weeks, which is surely lingering in the back of his mind whilst he’s trying to play his best football.

Furthermore, if he is proven guilty, it could potentially open up a window where Manly are without Koroisau, Hastings and Fainu. Their first, second and third choice hookers.

So after all that, I’m sure you’ve reached the conclusion that things have been pretty bad up at Brookvale. The club has had a freakishly long list of crisis’ in what’s only been the first 19 rounds of the competition.

But they’ve overcome every single one of them.

After all that, you wouldn’t be surprised at all to find Manly leading the race for the Wooden Spoon. However, they have three teams below them leading into the final stretch of the season, including a Cowboys side that has absolutely no excuses to justify why they’re there.

Despite all of their troubles this season, they’ve still been able to find 54-0, 24-4, and 18-10 wins against Parramatta, Melbourne and Penrith respectively. A playing group with it’s leader questioned, it’s star injured and one exiled entirely has had it’s confidence shattered.

But it’s shown up every week with nothing to play for, and given it it’s all. Despite their points conceded in the game, they even managed to put 24 on the best defence in the comp last Sunday.

Maybe it’s something about the ability of the club to simply shake off adversity, or the leadership abilities of DCE and the Trbojevic brothers to pick up a squad of largely unheard of players week in week out, but you have to admire them.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m no Manly fan, but this is a squad that’s had everything thrown at it, and has stayed together, and that’s something special.

27 COMMENTS

  1. Most teams have a ND policy. Manly need to adopt it, but seems its way to late for that.

    I don’t know how they feel about Barrett, but I reckon they don’t want to play with each other more than anything.

  2. To be fair, I do think there’s some really great personalities there. Some are top shelf. But also some rubbish ones as well, hence maybe the problem

  3. Manly do seem like a tight group and have always adopted that side mentality against things..
    This year is a write off and hopefully will just avoid the spoon (eels hopefully) lol…
    Manly has a very strong core group of players who when right are near the best in there respective positions..and those guys want to play together.
    Problem this year has been injuries to those players and just too manly bloke who are only back ups having to play entire seasons and 80 mons week on week out..
    Would like to see a team next year of, and I’m only doing this for input from people and take into consideration won’t be able to sign marquee players..
    1. Turbo
    2. Taufau
    3. Walker
    4. Kelly
    5. Gideon- mosby ( sign)
    6. Rylee jacks/ brick lamb (sign one)
    7. Dce
    8. AFB
    9. Api
    10. Marty
    11. Sironen
    12. Thompson
    13. Jake
    14. Tanginoa
    15. Cory Jensen (sign from cowboys)
    16. Blake Lawrie (sign dragons)
    17. Buhrer ( get him back, will be cheap)

    Paseka
    Tom wright
    Hodgkonson
    Jade Anderson
    Sipley
    Winterstein
    Suli

    Can all be back ups and be there just when required..
    Need some more big bodies signed and there is value there in blokes I’ve named. Not sure if they off contract exactly.
    Thoughts anyone???

  4. Yeah right , Manly are resilient because the cowboys have no excuse – nice way to justify your statement “not”.
    Correct me if I’m wrong, this same manly team have the same money invested in salaries as the cowboys and every other team however are sitting 2 points off a wooden spoon.
    The line up is pretty ordinary when taking 8-10 of their best players out of the equation. Their next 10 players are Park footy quality at best and that’s why they switch off now and then each week.
    Beat Melb and Brisbane with the same players and then lose to Titans.

    • The Manly Sea Eagles were fined $660,000 from their salary cap at the start of the season due to salary cap breaches concerning 15 players over 5 years. But yes, their lineup is very ordinary, which only proves more the value of their leaders and star players.

  5. Except for injuries to your squad, all the other BS excuses mentioned dont affect their comradarie, effort and ability on field and the ability of the coach to get em up for each game.
    I would say Penrith are more resilient as had more injuries to more genuine 1st graders in 2018 and are on double Manly’s competition points

    • Never played a team sport hey?? Like your keyboard a lot I’d say…
      It’s ok stay on here where your comfy…
      Panthers had a couple injuries but manly have 7 out of what would of been starting 13 out most of the year, so I’d say that’s worse then panthers, but hey you go check stats and stuff cause I’m sure you’ve the time to do it to prove me wrong…

        • Shut up idiot, just because someone stands up for a dumb attack on manly doesn’t mean there childish, so back under the house for you…

        • Oh you sound angry boobfulton… did someone discover your reddit name ?
          Enjoy your downvotes 😉

        • Domt get angry at little pawns like you, do feel sad that you’ve never been able to participate in team outdoor sports though..
          Poor holmesy copes it about everything…if only you weren’t as dumb as your name..

        • Naveenisgod. Shut up and talk footy or F off. Don’t need people like you shooting down everyone. So either stay and talk footy or pls go find something else to do. Not appreciated by any on here.

      • You check your stats and you will find Penrith have had more of there Top 17 out for longer when you add weeks out up. Fact attack not dumb!
        Fancy using an immortal as your keyboard name. Oh sorry…maybe you really are a Bozo.
        So before you go straight to the judgment of everyone else having not played a team sport like you and be wrong… sounds like another one looking out of a glass room!

        • Ha ha told you you would go look up some dumb stat…
          It means little about weeks out to a top 17 because who is to say who a top 17 is, I bet you included Tim Browne…
          Manly have had continually key players missing in key positions not just some Nuffy that might get a game if there were an injury…
          So yes Cleary was out and mansour, who else would really been a loss… don’t say Dylan Edwards cause that idiot is a goat and dwz was way better in that position so that was a good thing…
          But hey go check some other stat there champ and come back with another idiotic reply, because amending the day you mouthed off on an article that was written by someone no one knows and you felt the need to mouth off and poor pussy cats

  6. Resilience in the core group is what inspires me. Our good players are doing all they can despite the rest of the squad being injured and/or reserve graders. Daly last week against the Roosters was especially inspiring, tried his best, attempted to rev up the boys, was always first to make a tackle on a kick chase no matter the score on the board. Great stuff from an inspiring captain, has overcome plenty of adversity this year, proved he belongs in origin footy now he can lead our great club to a premiership in the coming years. Despite all our drama we were top 4 for most of 2017. 2018 just hasn’t been our year but I think we are not far off another strong run with this core group we have.

    1 T Trbojevic
    2 Taufua
    3 Walker
    4 Kelly
    5
    6
    7 Cherry-Evans (c)
    8 Fonua-Blake
    9 Koroisau
    10 Taupau
    11 Thompson
    12 Sironen
    13 J Trbojevic (c)

    14
    15 Tanginoa
    16
    17 Paseka

    It’s a really good side just missing a good pivot to complement the rest of the spine, a speedy winger, bench hooker/utility and a bench forward. Our pack has been really good this year and at full strength we can match it with any side. Our backline has struggled this year but that is due to injuries. When players have been fit they have been good such as Kelly. Our spine speaks for itself as good as any just missing a 6. This side can easily get up and deep into the finals we just need some luck, consistency and a better off field year and we are pushing a premiership in the near future.

    • Try top eight for most of the year in 2017, Manly only broke into the top four for about 3 or 4 weeks between rnd 15-18 then got knocked out in the first week of the semis to finish in the 7-8th position for the year. Under Barrett in 2016 they finished fourth last at 13th on 20 points and this year on 12 points if the management don’t sack him, then the future of Manly is in for some very, very dark days.

      • Woodchook get off of the high horse and realise the manly team at full strength beat your salary sumbrero Roosters in 2017 so… Barrett has shown with a good healthy roster he is a good coach. No coach could get manly out of the mess they are in, not even Bellamy.

    • Mate I made a comment earlier with what I would like to see as a team asking for opinions, you’ve named all the same players I have but left blanks, who would you like to see, I’ve named mine at the top, it was just for curiosity sake

      • Yeah mate all good I’ll go with.

        5 Don (Has good pace and excellent in the air)

        6 Jacks (Good solid five-eight with a strong kicking and passing game and not afraid to run the ball, would provide a nice balance to our spine and complement the off the cuff players in T Trbojevic and Koroisau while providing a good foil for Cherry-Evans)

        14 Fainu* (My preference is too keep Fainu on the bench good young hooker with plenty of promise and plays very similar to Api so we would lose momentum when Api is having a rest, if Fainu due to his scandal is removed from the side I’d pick Baptiste or Garvey, both are good backups who can play halves or even some lock/backrow)

        16 Hetherington (Great young forward with a big future, plays hard and fast I’m a big fan)

        I’d also pick up Buhrer as he is a junior, great bloke and clubman and a solid backrower who can play halves and hooker.

        Pretty similar to your thoughts on the side I just feel we lack some good clubman right now with expreience. And also we badly need some stability in the spine and I think Jacks fits the bill but I wouldn’t Brimson from the Titans either, he is going to be a good player.

        • Yeah don would be good but think he’s heading to sharks or dogs and maybe a bit out of our price.. that’s why I went mosby as think he just needs a shot and won’t cost much, even feki from sharks would be ok as he on the outer there..
          Jacks would be great that’s an easy one..
          Hetherington runs hard and rips in just not sure if he not too much of a hot head and also think i heard he has 2 years to run on his counteract.. with no money issues I’d be wanting to go after ofehengau from broncos, bloke is awesome. Just needs a decent shot and he’ll be one of the best props going..
          Yep keen on buhrer, can play anywhere and never lets anyone down,should never of been let go

  7. The more I look at Manly’s team the more convinced I am that they will get back to back Wooden Spoons. Manly have one chance to avoid the spoon in rnd22 against the Dogs if they lose that I believe it will be a deserving trophy for Barrett to pick up their first ever spoon and for good measure Barrett should pick up a sacking with it. The way he treated and handled the Hastings fiasco proves he has no insight. Had Hastings been the 5/8 from game 1 Manly would be hovering around 8th or so. This blow in coach needs to be replaced. What ever happened to their policy of having an ex Manly player as a coach. There ought to be an “investigation” why Toovey is not already the caretaker coach in 2018.

    • Not every club can be graced with an unlimited cap and endless stolen juniors mate. Hastings sacking was the correct call. He was a first class f wit thats why he got sacked from the Roosters and dragons and was a reserve grader at his best. Stop giving an arrogant high horse insight of a club you have no idea about. Your whole purpose on this site is to make people angry. Get a life.

  8. To quote on your own:
    Clean sweep. Toxic culture.

    thebatman July 12, 2018 at 8:00 pm

    Pot? Kettle? Black?

    • Toxic culture is the definition of the Parra eels mate. Decades of a losing toxic culture is all Parra has had in recent times. Worry about your own backyard before you worry about others because Parra is easily the worst club in the NRL when it comes performance and culture.

      • Sorry wrong again sook – players fighting amongst each other, throwing punches at each other, sexual assaults, salary cap cheating, players refusing to play with each other, players abusing opposition players, ceo going walk about, owner going walkabout – hmmm what club is that?
        I don’t recall my club being in the headlines for those kind of issues this year, wonder which one it is.
        Time to get off your high horse and look at some reality. And I am still waiting for an explanation from you for the abuse I copped from you for no apparent reason.
        Suck it up princess.

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