Brad Parker and Moses Suli were considered by many to be liabilities to the Sea Eagles chances of success not so long ago.
Here is what a couple of Manly fans wrote about Parker at the end of 2018.
“Gronk of a player, looks like a deer in the headlights out there. Slips over, drops the ball and makes regular clangers. Not first grade material, unsure why we are persevering with him”
“Nothing personal but Parker is not of first grade standard.”
And on Suli?
“Is it me or is he just a passenger in every game?”
“Fat, slow, lazy in defence. His combination with Parker has him as the worst centre winger combination pair in the comp.”
Not everyone was this harsh but it was fair to say many fans weren’t keen on either player.
I was pretty keen on Parker early in his career but some pretty big doubts were creeping in. I hadn’t seen enough of Suli to make a firm judgement but I did see him play the Roosters in a trial at Gosford and it was clear he was very hard to tackle and, on that basis, was keen to see how he would develop.
Heading into 2020, I’m of the opinion that they could provide the edge we need to win the big one. By the end of last season they were both in excellent form. Suli had trimmed down, become quicker and fitter and was close to the form centre in the finals. Parker was back in the centres, was regularly beating the first tackle, looked injury free, was well balanced and confident.
Both players were enjoying the game possibly for the first time in a couple of years or more and, if they can maintain or even improve on their late season form, the Sea Eagles are a real threat for title. If Suli can get even fitter and faster than last season, the impact for his club could be pretty dramatic.
If I’m correct, this continues a promising trend for the game, whereby centres play a big role in the result of contests again and continues the work of Joseph Manu and Latrell Mitchell at the Chooks – who were massive factors in consecutive titles.
Maligned players who come good is such a positive factor at any club and players like Jason King, in particular, along with Steve Matai and even Anthony Watmough and Jamie Lyon, to some extent, had question marks over their value but came good and played plenty of great games for the club.
As a fan nothing is better than watching a player improve and have a great career but, as always, only time will tell.
Roarers, which centre pairing will finish the season as the competition’s best? The Sharks, Broncos, Raiders, Roosters or another pairing? Could it be Manly’s odd couple, Parker and Suli?