Sea Eagles back in familiar territory under the radar

Jack Byrnes Roar Pro

By Jack Byrnes, Jack Byrnes is a Roar Pro

Tagged:
 ,

32 Have your say

    Right now, Manly are a club in crisis. Apparently.

    Apparently the salary cap scandal is disastrous, catastrophic, fatal.

    Sure, the eventual penalty may result in the club losing cap space for 2018, which in effect will render the search for a new number six dead and buried. It’s not ideal, but it certainly isn’t the be-all and end-all.

    Hear me out.

    Both Lachlan Croker and Jackson Hastings were Junior Kangaroos. For different reasons neither has kicked on like most expected them to. That doesn’t mean they’ve forgotten how to play, however.

    Let’s remember that the Sydney Roosters, the undisputed kings of roster management and cap manipulation, once released James Maloney to accelerate Hastings development. A few months later Mitchell Pearce got on the drink and Jackson Hastings became the club’s chief playmaker. At 19.

    It was a recipe for disaster, and Hastings was shipped out to Manly with little fanfare less than 12 months later. Apparently his attitude stunk and he struggled to give senior players the respect they deserved. If this is the case, Hastings will need to address it. With age, however, often comes maturity.

    Now 22, a greater opportunity for the son of a Roosters legend to forge his own destiny may never arise.

    (AAP Image/Dean Lewins)

    Similarly, family ties gave Lachlan Croker an exacerbated entry into the rugby league sphere. At the same time, though, he dominated in the under 20s for Canberra to such an extent that Ricky Stuart earmarked him as a future star in lime green. High hopes quickly faded as a result of injuries and the stellar form of more senior playmakers in the nation’s capital. Like Hastings, Croker was sent packing without as much as a goodbye.

    If reports are to be believed, the nephew of Jason is training the house down at Narrabeen in the hope of finally fulfilling his undoubted potential.

    Either one of these players can fill the void left by Blake Green, and the competition between the two can only be beneficial for the club. While Green’s composure will be missed, he wasn’t the heartbeat of the side. His loss should not be fatal.

    Remember, Daly Cherry-Evans remains. As do the Trbojevic brothers.

    The key for Manly in 2018, however, won’t be any of the aforementioned players.

    Enter Shaun Lane. This guy legitimately was the next big thing when he burst onto the scene for Canterbury in 2015. Like the two young halves vying for the number six jumper, though, Lane also disappeared out the back door, shipped off to the Warriors before ending up at Blacktown all in the space of 12 months.

    While no reasons were ever given as to why Des Hasler shafted 2015’s hottest young forward, it may have been that the effort wasn’t quite there at training. Either way, time was on his side.

    (AAP Image/Paul Miller)

    But at 23 that time has arrived. Last season Manly struggled for depth in the back row, and although Lane showed glimpses of his former self late in the year while enjoying an extended stay in the side, deficiencies were still clearly noticeable. Most of these appeared effort related, however, and a full preseason under Trent Barrett’s watchful eye and Dan Ferris’s rigorous training program will surely have the towering back rower primed and ready for Round 1.

    If he does kick on, like he can, Manly will foster one of the most formidable back rows in the competition next season.

    Staying with the forwards, Addin Fonua-Blake could well finish the year as the competition’s most improved forward. His cameos from the bench were vital at different stages last year, and with greater experience and maturity will inevitably come greater impact. How he didn’t get more game time for a below-par Kiwis side was one of the World Cup’s great mysteries.

    Finally, it would be criminal to finish a Sea Eagles yarn without talking adequately about the darlings of the Northern Beaches. In 2018 expect the Trbojevic brothers to become the backbone of both Barrett’s Sea Eagles and Fittler’s Blues. The sky is the limit for these two superstars of our game.

    In all, the Manly Warringah Sea Eagles still have the ingredients to make a serious dent in the NRL in 2018. Don’t be bogged down by media innuendo; this is a side on the up.

    Bring it on.

    Have Your Say



    If not logged in, please enter your name and email before submitting your comment. Please review our comments policy before posting on the Roar.

    Oldest | Newest | Most Recent

    The Crowd Says (32)

    • December 21st 2017 @ 8:34am
      KingCowboy said | December 21st 2017 @ 8:34am | ! Report

      Their forward pack has only one genuine great player in Jake Trbojevic. Can’t stand Manly as a club but geez I love this kid. No fan fare about him, just a really tough kid with underrated ball playing ability. IMO he is the heart and soul of this team but he doesn’t have enough forward talent around him for Manly to do anything.

      They might sneak into the 8 but they will get knocked out early. I see them finishing 9th to 12th on the ladder!

      • December 21st 2017 @ 5:59pm
        Harry said | December 21st 2017 @ 5:59pm | ! Report

        Marty Taupau is at times the games best prop. Addin Fonua-Blake has almost as much power and impact as taupau but for shorter periods. Jake Trbo is a machine and Sironen is ever-improving, versitile and manipulative with his snappy inside runs that create opportunity. Sure, manly are short of one quality prop from being a brutally consistent pack, although they are close and have some really goodforwards coming through (Tanginoa, Paseka, Lane).

        Against the Panthers in round 26 shows how good the pack can be, and in time they will continue to improve so they can perform consistently. It’s a young side all around

      • December 23rd 2017 @ 1:16pm
        madmax said | December 23rd 2017 @ 1:16pm | ! Report

        I needed a good laugh & you’ve just given me that. Can’t wait to see your “all conquering forward pack” fall on their arses!

    • Roar Guru

      December 21st 2017 @ 8:45am
      The Barry said | December 21st 2017 @ 8:45am | ! Report

      Hardly under the radar.

      Potential cap breach, made the semis last year, million dollar a year halfback.

      In the spotlight if anything.

    • December 21st 2017 @ 9:18am
      BA Sports said | December 21st 2017 @ 9:18am | ! Report

      Seem to frequently use the words “if” and “could” in that write up. Teams threatening generally have a little more certainty about them.

      I think it is a reach to think Croker or Hastings will play any better than Green did in 2017. So not sure how the Sea Eagles take the next step to make the Top 4.

    • December 21st 2017 @ 9:47am
      paul said | December 21st 2017 @ 9:47am | ! Report

      Who, apart from the author considers a side that made the top 8 this season, an under the radar side for 2018?

      In saying that, I think the Eagles will struggle. They are heavily reliant on the Trbojevic brother and DCE, and if these guys are injured, they haven’t got a lot of depth in their roster. Sure they’ve got guys who have potential but other sides have form players of proven quality.

      • December 21st 2017 @ 10:10am
        Greg Ambrose said | December 21st 2017 @ 10:10am | ! Report

        Paul I’d nominate you as one who thinks they will struggle and therefore classically under the radar. We were under the radar this year because few understood what a decent roster we had and were fooled by the notion that a rookie coach with a poor record means anything.

        Next year we have a more experienced team and many players still to reach their peak and for the second year in a row I believe most have been fooled into underestimating the team.

        • December 21st 2017 @ 3:28pm
          Paul said | December 21st 2017 @ 3:28pm | ! Report

          Greg, consistency or a lack of it, was Manly’s enemy this year and I see no reason why the same won’t happen in 2018. Scorelines of 35 – 10 and 52 – 22 in losses against the Dragons, 40 – 6 loss to the Storm and back to back losses to West Tigers and the Bulldogs can hardly be classed as credentials to go further next year.

          This side should make the 8 again but other sides are now aware how to play them so while the side might be more experienced, only time will tell if they’re better

          • December 21st 2017 @ 7:08pm
            Greg Ambrose said | December 21st 2017 @ 7:08pm | ! Report

            Paul the reason I would expect Manly to be more consistent in 18 is history. The performances this year are entirely consistent with previous build ups to title wins. Haslers heroes were much worse than this lot in his first two years and are responsible for Manly’s worst ever loss 68 -6 at Shark Park.

            The same logic was applied to Barretts 22% odd winning record at the start of 17. It doesn’t mean anything and neither do those losses last year. The record loss was met with horror but it didn’t stop players like Watmough, Menzies, Brett Stewart and Jason King thumping the Storm 40 nil a few years later.
            You are sounding a bit like a more rational and pleasant version of a lot of Manly fans after a few rounds this year. Talk of the wooden spoon was rampant but totally misguided.

            I don’t know what will happen but I am sure looking at 2017 will explain very little about 2018.

      • December 21st 2017 @ 6:04pm
        Harry said | December 21st 2017 @ 6:04pm | ! Report

        Agree that we need another, although Taupau is most certainly our enforcer, not much better

    • December 21st 2017 @ 10:00am
      Greg Ambrose said | December 21st 2017 @ 10:00am | ! Report

      Manly lost Hodkinson to the Dogs for season 2011 and that was viewed as a major loss because there was no obvious replacement. It was one of the best things to happen to Manly in the last decade. Enter DCE who was the star player in a premiership winning season.

      Blake Green is a fair quality journeyman who will easily be replaced , hopefully by a better defender with more pace.

      Bozo has assembled a really good , tough pack which at times dominated some other decent packs but lacked some consistency. This is close to being a great pack and maybe next year we will see that. AFB is potentially one of the games top forwards, very strong with a good offload but needs to take the next step fitness wise to fulfill his potential.

      Walker is injured and that could be a problem but the team has a fair few players who were still learning the ropes last year and if they mature into long term 1st graders then a great year is possible.

      BA sports , by certainty do you mean the Raiders being certain to make the eight last year and challenge for the title or Penrith to live up to their tag as favorites?

      Nothing about next season is certain. Every team is full of question marks. Is there any team who can’t make the eight? A few years back the Cows and Broncos were considered certainties to play each other again in the GF by most but it was a Shark and Storm big dance.

      • December 21st 2017 @ 12:45pm
        BA Sports said | December 21st 2017 @ 12:45pm | ! Report

        Greg,

        No I mean teams who contend usually have some certainty about them – Like Melbourne, the Cowboys, the Broncos and to a lesser extent the Roosters. That isn’t to say a team can’t surprise everyone, of course that happens. But historically contenders/winners have not been Cinderellas.

        I am not saying Manly can’t make the four, but when I look at their squad last year I look at Green’s replacement – most likely Hastings or Croker and in 2018 can they play better than Green did in 2017? Probably not. Of the guys who stayed Fanou Blake, Sironen, Walker, Korisau, Winterstein, Uate, Kelly, Taupau, DCE and the Tubo’s – all had really good years – you could argue just about all of them had their best seasons. Some will maintain that skill level though it will be hard. Some may continue to improve (I can’t see many that can improve to a level that will make a huge difference), but most of those guys will have peaked. While guys like Brown, Lussick, Lane, Perrett, Wright, Taufua are what they are (in all liklihood), which is honest toilers – every team needs them, but it doesn’t take you to the next level. Add to that zero signings of note – that I am aware of .

        To use your example, they are just as likely to do a Penrith and return to their mean, than continue to improve which is what obviously has to happen in order for them to go further in the competition

        • December 21st 2017 @ 1:42pm
          Albo said | December 21st 2017 @ 1:42pm | ! Report

          I think Manly have the basis of a pretty good side in 2018. Main points for me :
          1. DCE & the Turbo brothers are stars already and will lead strongly.
          2. Taupua potentially devastating, but must find consistency
          3. Walker dangerous when fit
          4. Lane & Winterstein need to be utilised better on the edges ( eg Felise Kaufusi style)
          5. Jack Gosiewski to prove a great buy before the season is out
          6. Number 6 to be a problem spot until young Tom Wright is ready for the big time ( I don’t rate Hastings & Croker as effective solutions at this stage)
          7. The pack is still in need of some more muscle.

          • December 21st 2017 @ 10:19pm
            Peter said | December 21st 2017 @ 10:19pm | ! Report

            I wish people would get off this “Tom Wright for 5/8” bandwagon. The club doesn’t even see him as a 5/8 at NRL level. They see him as another Dylan Walker….played a bit of 5/8 in the lower grades but his speed and running game is better suited to the centres in the NRL…..and that is where they have him training.

            Wright at 5/8 in first grade for Manly won’t happen unless there is an injury crisis or either Hastings or Croker fail miserably.

            • December 22nd 2017 @ 7:09pm
              terrence said | December 22nd 2017 @ 7:09pm | ! Report

              Peter,
              I think you are on the money with Wright, initially (like Foran) he’ll be a centre on debut and for a while, eventually making his way to six.

        • December 21st 2017 @ 1:55pm
          Greg Ambrose said | December 21st 2017 @ 1:55pm | ! Report

          Manly entered the 2007 season with a very similar scenario as 2018. A new coach in his third year who limped into the eight the season before with a roster with some great quality mixed with some lesser players. Both teams had some really bad losses in the previous two seasons along with some great wins.

          In 2007 they made the GF against a Storm team who were way over the cap and had their title stripped.

          Here are some Eagles players from GF day 2007 . Michael Robertson, Chris Hicks, Matt Orford, Jason King, Luke Williamson, Mark Bryant, Adam Cuthbertson and Jack Afamasaga.

          In my opinion a fair few of these players wouldn’t make the current team so it gives me some optimism for the season ahead.

          I’d say they are under the radar because of the reasons you have highlighted.

          A season review 2017 on Roar had the Storm coming 7th but it raised very few comments.

          The teams you mentioned are going thru eras where they have the strongest group of players but this will shortly change and some of them will be at the wrong end of the ladder. Few will see it coming.

          Whoever plays 5/8 for Manly I believe will have a better season than Blake Green. Just as DCE had a great season playing behind a strong pack so will the new pivot behind an even better pack.

          These forwards don’t need to improve much but just be consistent and all will be good.

        • December 21st 2017 @ 7:10pm
          Greg Ambrose said | December 21st 2017 @ 7:10pm | ! Report

          Paul the reason I would expect Manly to be more consistent in 18 is history. The performances this year are entirely consistent with previous build ups to title wins. Haslers heroes were much worse than this lot in his first two years and are responsible for Manly’s worst ever loss 68 -6 at Shark Park.

          The same logic was applied to Barretts 22% odd winning record at the start of 17. It doesn’t mean anything and neither do those losses last year. The record loss was met with horror but it didn’t stop players like Watmough, Menzies, Brett Stewart and Jason King thumping the Storm 40 nil a few years later.
          You are sounding a bit like a more rational and pleasant version of a lot of Manly fans after a few rounds this year. Talk of the wooden spoon was rampant but totally misguided.

          I don’t know what will happen but I am sure looking at 2017 will explain very little about 2018.

    • Roar Guru

      December 21st 2017 @ 10:10am
      Nat said | December 21st 2017 @ 10:10am | ! Report

      Agree with the Jackson sentiment from those years ago. I didn’t rate him much until I seen him the following year at Suncorp playing in the u20s to realise how old he was. He has skills but not nearly up with Green yet so DCE won’t have the support he enjoyed with Green or Foran. That said, the majority of this team have rep’d for State or Country so anything less than Top 8 should be unacceptable.

    Explore:
    ,