Manly Sea Eagles in 2017: Off-season, what to look for, and prediction

Nicholas Nakos Roar Pro

By Nicholas Nakos, Nicholas Nakos is a Roar Pro

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    A lack of consistency plagued Manly during 2016, with the club unable to generate back-to-back victories until Rounds 17 and 18.

    A poor defensive record, whereby the Sea Eagles routinely gave up 30 points to top-eight opposition, rendered them incapable of making a run towards the top eight.

    The off-season
    Retirements to three of the team’s premiership stalwarts in Brett Stewart, Steve Matai and Jamie Lyon will come as a blow to the club and their leadership and experience will undoubtedly be dearly missed. The Sea Eagles have recruited heavily in the offseason and I particularly like the additions of Blake Green and Curtis Sironen.

    Green has shown himself to be a capable player at the six and will allow Dylan Walker to return to his more accustomed position at centre.

    Sironen has been earmarked as a future NSW State of Origin player and could do his credentials a world of good at a Manly team which is undersized in the second row. His versatility and apt ball handling make him a handy addition to this Manly roster.

    What to look for in 2017
    Tom and Jake Trbojevic will continue to excel and develop and are certainly assets Manly will hope to retain for years to come. Where the team seeks to integrate Jackson Hastings will be interesting and there is a good competition within the five-eighth, halfback and hooker roles at the club.

    Sea Eagles player Tom Trbojevic

    I look for Manly to be more competitive in games in 2017, as I don’t believe their defensive schemes will be as porous as they were in 2016. With another pre-season under his belt, Trent Barrett will hopefully have further imprinted his stamp upon the clubs playing style.

    Daly Cherry-Evans had a down year by his standards and those which are expected of him inside and outside of the Manly club. After attracting enormous attention in 2015 with his new contract, I believe he will improve with an experienced five-eighth such as Green by his side.

    A more recent development has been the renaming of Brookvale Oval to ‘Lottoland’, which is surely one of the more farcical names given to a stadium anywhere in the world, let alone in Australia. It is more certainly a sign of the times, and indicative of the need for clubs to boost revenue in whichever way they can. Manly are said to have received a seven-figure sum for the naming rights.

    Good luck to them.

    2017 prediction
    The first six games of the 2017 season will be crucial to Manly. They play four teams who finished in the bottom eight last season and a Canterbury team who are regressing rather than progressing. If the Sea Eagles can finish this stretch 4-2 or even 5-1 then they will have already exceeded my expectations.

    As I see things, this team will take some time to gel. They will miss out in finals again in 2017 and be primed for a run at the top eight once more in 2018.

    2017 prediction: 12th

    NRL 2016 record: 8-0-16 (20 points- 13th)

    Ins: Shaun Lane (NZ), Blake Green (Melbourne), Cameron Cullen (Gold Coast), Akuila Uate (Newcastle), Curtis Sironen (Wests), Jackson Hastings (Sydney), Jonathan Wright (NZ), Jarrad Kennedy (Canberra), Frank Winterstein (union), Lloyd Perrett (Canterbury)

    Outs: Jamie Lyon (retirement), Brett Stewart (retirement), Steve Matai (retirement), Siosia Vave (Parramatta), Jamie Buhrer (Newcastle), Josh Starling (Newcastle), Brayden Williame (Catalans), Matt Parcell (Leeds), Feleti Mateo (Salford), Luke Burgess (Catalans), Blake Leary (Townsville Blackhawks)

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    The Crowd Says (72)

    • February 18th 2017 @ 5:23pm
      bearfax said | February 18th 2017 @ 5:23pm | ! Report

      Nick, it seems that three major facts are overlooked by people assessing Manly’s performance in 2016 and their chances in 2017. I suspect you are falling into the same trap

      Firstly the suggestion that losing Matai, Brett Stewart and Lyon from the Sea Eagles from the 2016 side, will have an impact on the side is illogical. In fact they had very little impact on that side given two of them were injured for over half the season and when they did play, they were a shadow of their former greatness. Compare the three playing in 2010-15 and yes its a major loss. They were champion players. But Matai was on his last legs when he had played only his 8th game in 2016, Brett Stewart hobbled about the field for his 11 games and Lyon was still effective but at centre he was no longer fast enough to compete with younger faster players. They offered little in 2016.

      Secondly, the Sea Eagles had the worst injury toll of any side in the comp and in its history, having to use 31 players, causing a large number to play out of position including forwards in the centres, hookers at five eighth and half, not to forget that both Cherry-Evans and Tom Trbojevic were playing for much of the year lame.

      Thirdly, the Sea Eagles had an very inexperienced coach, who took quite some time to realise his theory was not going to make him a great coach and that experience was needed to work out what he was doing. The Walker experiment at 5/8 was a travesty, the Brown experiment at centre was a travesty, and he rarely had the same players on the field week in week out and in their correct positions. And lets not forget they lost two games by four and one by one, which would have placed them about tenth if they had won.

      The team they have this year is quite a deal stronger on paper, and with the experience of a year of hell for Barrett, he would have learned a lot about what works. With Green at five eighth, some well performed young players added such as Kelly, Sironen, Hastings etc and a fit Tom Trbojevic, to suggest a 12th position doesnt seem logical when compared to the 13th in 2016, with the chaos that was experienced. Add to that a much stronger back up group thanks to the association with Blacktown Workers. They will only be 12th if they suffer the same injury toll of 2016. Otherwise I can easily see them coming in between 5th and 10th and most probably 7th or 8th.

      • February 18th 2017 @ 6:39pm
        Kevin Malone said | February 18th 2017 @ 6:39pm | ! Report

        You are right 12th isn’t logical
        15th is logical

        • February 18th 2017 @ 9:58pm
          bearfax said | February 18th 2017 @ 9:58pm | ! Report

          Well you know Kevin I base my assessments on results not emotions. Manly almost made the 9s final, they’ve won both trials and their reserves are undefeated with a 40-16 win against a strong Sydney City reserves this weekend. Only trials I know but says something about which direction they are heading. What exactly are you basing your assessment on?

          • February 19th 2017 @ 10:20am
            Kevin Malone said | February 19th 2017 @ 10:20am | ! Report

            Nines are a great indicator

            • February 21st 2017 @ 5:25am
              NSWelshman said | February 21st 2017 @ 5:25am | ! Report

              Well if the 9s is not an indicator then the World Club Challenge shows the Sharks are in for an abysmal year……… back to where they usually finish…..the bottom 8 mate!

      • February 18th 2017 @ 9:40pm
        kk said | February 18th 2017 @ 9:40pm | ! Report

        bearfax,

        Just got home from one of the most entertaining games you could ever wish to see.

        Manly and Easts turned it on and that form maintained will see both make the 8.

        Both sides went off the boil for 10′ with handling errors. The other 70′ was super RL.

    • Roar Rookie

      February 18th 2017 @ 7:14pm
      Joe said | February 18th 2017 @ 7:14pm | ! Report

      Manly are going to rue the day they let Buhrer go. He is killing it for the Knights…they’ve smashing the Raiders at 30-0 and its only the first half!! I think people better get ready to eat crow about the Knights this year. I know its a trial but the way they’re running through a very strong Raiders team and the way they’re defending I think this team will not be the pushovers most people are expecting them to be.

    • February 19th 2017 @ 1:21pm
      James T said | February 19th 2017 @ 1:21pm | ! Report

      If manly play open attacking footy dce and tommy can get them in the 8. If they play grinding boring footy I feel the forwards aren’t good enough and manly will probably finish bottom 4.

    • February 20th 2017 @ 1:30pm
      billyg said | February 20th 2017 @ 1:30pm | ! Report

      I, for one, am not surprised at Manly supporters “glass is nearly full” opinion of their team and the recruitment that has occurred over the off-season. Its in their DNA to talk it up – good on em.
      However, it must be said that the departures and arrivals do not net each other out in an way – the loss of Buhrer, Starling, Matai, Stewart, Lyon against Uate, Lane, Perrett, Sironen, Green etc ???
      Perrett, Lane and Sironen are journeyman at best – all three struggled to get game time in teams that are much worse on paper than Manly.
      The fact that Perrett and Lane are regularly shopped around to other clubs should make you question either their ability, the dedication or their attitude.
      Throw in a winger who cant catch a ball, is half the pace he used to be and couldn’t make it as a reserve to the reserve grade team.
      Green may be more than serviceable but time will tell if he reaches the heights he did at the Storm.
      Hastings has potential if he changes his attitude.
      If they make the 8, then it would be an exceptional year and everything went right, but when there are so many gambles on players, not all of them will come off and a finish of 12-14 is more realistic.

      • February 20th 2017 @ 10:24pm
        bearfax said | February 20th 2017 @ 10:24pm | ! Report

        Yawn. The reason Manly supporters have a ‘half glass’ full perspective is because Manly always rises back to the top. We know what the factors are that do that and we are seeing it again in the recent development. Now other teams may have problems with that in their backyard, but Sea Eagle supporters KNOW when their team is back on the rise.

      • February 21st 2017 @ 5:30am
        NSWelshman said | February 21st 2017 @ 5:30am | ! Report

        Yawn zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz!!!!! Year in, year out Manly is written off yet they come back & will continue to do so! Manly & Melbourne….the 2 most successful teams of the past decade & THAT’S A FACT JACK!

      • February 21st 2017 @ 10:14am
        billyg said | February 21st 2017 @ 10:14am | ! Report

        so both you guys are saying that the quality of the recruitment is better than the quality of personnel that have left over the last season?
        Most observers would be of the opinion that the overall quality of the squad from 2016 to 2017 has diminished, but the teams supporters expect that the 2017 results will be better than 2016.
        Historical success is but one indicator of future success, its not a guarantee.

        The last decade for both the Storm and Manly have been as a result of once in a generation type of player – the Storm have been blessed to have Cronk, Smith and Slater to base their team around for that decade or longer, while Manly have had the Stewarts, Lyon, Matai, Watmough and to a lesser extent, Foran and DCE,
        Storm should come back to the pack in the next year or two, whilst its now for Manly. Rebuilding after such a long period of success doesn’t happen overnight, especially when a number of the departures hadn’t been planned for or anticipated.
        Good luck though.

        • February 21st 2017 @ 11:38am
          bearfax said | February 21st 2017 @ 11:38am | ! Report

          Its a point I tried to make, billyg. Yes, most commentators do see Manly dropping in quality a little this year. But as pointed out that was because they have lost Lyon, Stewart and Matai…and Buhrer was a bad loss also. But the three stars offered little to Manly last year, two injured for half the year and more, so having Green, Kelly and Tom T. in those positions, all young and talented, shows they will be better off than in 2016.

          Its also not indicated by those ‘experts’ time and again, that Manly had the worst injury toll of any club and had many of their best players on the side lines for half the season. You cant win with half a reserve grade side, especially when your reserves are very average at best. Blacktown Workers team will be top 4 this year, and therefore Manly will have much more solid reserves to add to an improved Forward pack.

          What is noted from the ‘experts’ is that they dont really have a good knowledge of the squads they are assessing. They base their opinions on last years efforts and any major player losses and star player gains. They seem to overlook the meat and vegetables of a squad, and that’s why they get their assessments so wrong. For example most picked Manly last year in the 4. Most astute Manly supporters picked them outside of the 8. This year its generally considered that a 7-8 finish is most likely as long as injuries dont hurt too much.

          • February 21st 2017 @ 12:03pm
            billyg said | February 21st 2017 @ 12:03pm | ! Report

            I like your optimism but I don’t necessarily share it – but that’s what this is all about isn’t it? Opinion.
            The fact that I don’t support the team is a part of the reason I don’t share your optimism but if all cylinders can fire I could share your sentiments, but as I said, 12-14 is probably realistic, 7-8 optimistic but anywhere in that range is highly likely.
            Looking forward to Rd 1 though….

            • February 21st 2017 @ 12:09pm
              bearfax said | February 21st 2017 @ 12:09pm | ! Report

              Cant agree with you Billy. For Manly to be 12-14 they would have to have as bad a season as last year with the excessive injuries and players playing out of position. 12-14 to me is not realistic when you compare the teams taking into consideration the injuries. If I was optimistic I’d have Manly in the top 4

              • Roar Guru

                February 21st 2017 @ 1:03pm
                The Barry said | February 21st 2017 @ 1:03pm | ! Report

                Comparing Manly’s 2017 squad to 2016 squad and saying “it’s a better team, we should finish higher” isn’t really the comparison that should be made. The comparison is who they can beat this year.

                I would only say that Manly are likely to finish ahead of the Knights, Tigers and Dragons. I don’t think they can finish ahead of the Storm, Raiders, Sharks, Panthers, Roosters, Cowboys.

                That puts them in a range of 7th to 13th for mine with a big group of teams whose fate will be determined by how well they gel together, how badly they’re affected by injuries and how well they cope with them.

                If Manly have a bad run and the Dragons and Tigers travel well it’s not out of this world that they’ll finish 15th.

                That’s not a dig at the Eagles – that’s the nature of the comp this year.

              • Roar Rookie

                February 21st 2017 @ 1:37pm
                eels47 said | February 21st 2017 @ 1:37pm | ! Report

                The Barry has nailed it. Manly will finish somewhere from 8th to probably 14th. Obviously a lot is going to depend on injuries, but I think they will, more than likely, finish 9th or 10th. Green should help DCE around the ruck, but won’t be enough to elevate them to the 8 I don’t think.

                With the addition of Foran, the Warriors are almost a top 8 certainty too (although they are very good at proving people wrong who make this prediction). Manly are rebuilding and it will take a couple more years I think to get back. No one is denying the success that they have had in the past decade or so, but that doesn’t mean they will improve dramatically this year.

              • February 21st 2017 @ 10:36pm
                bearfax said | February 21st 2017 @ 10:36pm | ! Report

                Injuries more than anything else stuffed the Sea Eagles last year. They could have come close to the 8 if they had managed to keep most of their players on the field, even without Matai and Stewart. It is injuries that will place Manly below 10th this year, if they suffer as badly as 2016. The side they have this year is slightly better than the team they could have had on the field last year, even without Matai and Stewart. You are right The Barry that Manly at this stage are unlikely to be above the six sides you nominated. But I think they can certainly be above the rest. And with the core of players they now have, I suspect they will challenge for the 4 in 2018

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