Sunday, October 2, 2011. That night of Manly’s eighth first-grade rugby league premiership.
A 24-10 win lead by rookie halfback Daly Cherry-Evans and his 21-year-old partner in Kieran Foran as well as the Stewart brothers and their experienced captain Jamie Lyon.
Well, times have changed from ten years ago as Daly Cherry-Evans is now, 32 years old, Manly and Queensland’s captain. A mature Kieran Foran is back at Brookie (4 Pines Park) for his second stint in the Maroon and White.
There are also new brothers on the Northern Beaches, Tom and Jake Trbojevic, with their younger brother Ben.
Tom ‘Turbo’ Trbojevic being arguably the best player in the NRL at the moment but due to his hamstrings and origin duties, he has only been able to contribute to nine games, which he has an astonishing 30 try involvements (as of 18 July 2021).
Tom Trbojevic has won the 2021 Wally Lewis medal as his state NSW triumphed in the series beating QLD 2-1 and is chasing down a currently injured Nathan Cleary for the 2021 Dally M award.
Manly have a record of five losses and three wins without Tom this season. He is no doubt crucial to whether Manly are really premiership contenders.
Jason Saab and Reuben Garrick have been a revelation on the wings for Manly this season, mainly due to Tom Trbojevic with his pinpoint passes to set them both up into the top five for tries scored this season.
Saab’s speed and height sets him up perfectly for whenever he has open space and gives Cherry-Evans a very good option in the air for the crossfield kicks. Between Garrick’s tries and his goal kicking puts him up the top of the league for points scored with 198 while averaging 11.6 points per game this season.
The Sea Eagles rookies this season haven’t gone unnoticed with the likes of Josh Schuster and Haumole Olakau’atu really dominating that edge back-row position for the Sea Eagles.
Josh’s brilliant versatility, playmaking and unpredictability really makes him a huge part of this depleted Manly side this season.
Haumole Olakau’atus size, strength, speed and surprisingly aerial ability with the ball has really proved its worth with Haumole being touted as one of the league’s best second rowers at this moment in time.
Lachlan Croker’s has resurrected his career in this new hooker role, Croker found himself sitting at Manly fourth choice halfback at the backend of last year behind the likes of Cade Cust and Josh Schuster.
Croker’s vision and variability between plays has been crucial for the sea eagles this season. Lachlan’s defence has been his most impressive attribute this season averaging 39.3 tackles per game.
Although Croker will have to potentially make way for the incoming Manase Fainu this season but has certainly put himself on the radar for clubs looking for a starting hooker in the near future.
Jake ‘Jurbo’ Trbojevic has been one of Manly’s key men this season being the most consistent with his form and playing very well in an extremely important role in the Manly side. Jakes job is to choose and start off most plays, this requires an insane about of ball knowledge and control especially for a big man.
He has made an astronomical improvement to fit in with the modern game (ball-playing lock) since his arrival in the league at 19 in 2013. Like Croker, Jake also prides himself on his defence averaging 37.4 tackles per game while also playing all 80 minutes.
Des Hasler as a coach is more known for his solid defence, Des has awfully improved Manly’s defence this season (after Round 4) with the whole team performing to their sparkling best, the most improvement has been seen in former bulldog’s centre Morgan Harper and hooker Lachlan Croker.
There is still work to be done on the defensive front though with the likes of Jason Saab. Hasler has brought back Kieran Foran for the 2021 and 2022 seasons to partner back up with DCE to see if he can provide support and take the workload of DCE.
The experience of the halves partners have exactly what it takes to take Manly to their ninth premiership and it seems that they also have the right team around them. Manly’s premiership hopes are looking very good as Manly look like they are the only team that can match it with the Storm and a fully fit Penrith at this moment in time.