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Manly Sea Eagles season preview

Manly Sea Eagles season preview

Tue, Feb 21, 2017 - 12:00PM
By Andrew Bryan‌‌, ‌NRL.com

It's a brave new world for Manly as the club embarks on its first season without dual-premiership winning club legends Jamie Lyon, Brett Stewart and Steve Matai. Lyon retired at the end of the 2016 season, while injuries forced Stewart and Matai into retirement in the off-season. After a largely disjointed and disappointing 2016 campaign that started with a lot of pre-season promise, the Sea Eagles will be looking to rebuild and return to the finals for the first time since 2014.

All 16 NRL club season previews for 2017

Gains and losses

Gains: Frank Winterstein (rugby union), Shaun Lane (Warriors), Blake Green (Storm), Cameron Cullen (Titans), Akuila Uate (Knights), Curtis Sironen (Wests Tigers), Lloyd Perrett (Bulldogs), Jackson Hastings (Roosters), Brian Kelly (Titans), Jonathan Wright (Warriors), Jarrad Kennedy (Raiders)

Losses: Jamie Lyon (retirement), Tim Moltzen (retirement), Tom Symonds (Huddersfield), Siosia Vave (Eels), Liam Knight (Roosters), Nathan Green (released), Blake Leary (Blackhawks), Issac John (Mounties), Jayden Hodges (released), Rhys Armstrong (released), Fabian Goodall (rugby union), Halaufa Lavaka (released), Tony Satini (Panthers), Dylan Kelly (released), Hugh Pratt (released), Nicho Hynes (released), Darcy Cox (released), Josh Starling (Knights), Jamie Buhrer (Knights), Brayden Williame (Catalans), Matt Parcell (Leeds Rhinos), Feleti Mateo (Salford), Luke Burgess (Catalans).

Blake Green is a shrewd investment by the club and should help placate the halves issues they've had since the loss of Kieran Foran. His combination with Daly Cherry-Evans will be crucial to Manly's chances this season. They've picked up some depth in the playmaking positions with the additions of Cameron Cullen and Jackson Hastings, but have lost key players Lyon, Matai and Stewart, along with hard working club favourites Jamie Buhrer and Tom Symonds. There has been a massive player turnover in the last two years on the Northern Beaches and they'll need to gel quickly to have a chance of making the finals.

What we know: Tom Trbojevic is more than ready to take the famous Sea Eagles No.1 jersey and make it his own. The 20-year-old already has superstar status on the Northern Beaches and is more than a handy replacement for Stewart. The addition of Green should also really assist Cherry-Evans who struggled for consistency last season with a host of players used to partner the former Kangaroo and Queensland representative in the halves. Green is one of the most underrated players in the game and he should help give the Sea Eagles a lot more direction, consistency and composure. 

 

 
Rookie watch: Brian Kelly could break into Manly's backline sooner than expected. The former Titan scored 22 tries from 36 appearances in the NYC on the Gold Coast and is the only player in State of Origin history to cross four times in a match; a feat he achieved for the Junior Blues in 2015. 

Depth: Manly have been badly affected by injuries in the last couple of seasons and it has really cruelled their chances for the NRL finals. The additions of Cam Cullen and Jackson Hastings gives them some cover in the vital halves role, but there doesn't seem to be a lot of depth in the outside backs or forwards over the course of a long season if injuries strike again.

Fantasy bankers: Daly Cherry-Evans ($471,000) struggled last year alongside a variety of halves partners, but still averaged a tick under 50 Fantasy points a game. His combination with Blake Green is a double-edged sword for Fantasy coaches; it could help him create more attacking stats, but Green might also steal kicking metres off him. Jake Trbojevic (492,000) has quickly established himself as one of the game's best forwards. Has a huge motor and is ultra-consistent, averaging 51.91 last year.

Crystal ball: The addition of Green should prove a stabling influence on the Northern Beaches, while the Trbojevic brothers are set to become two of the best players in the NRL. That said, this could still be somewhat of a rebuilding year for Manly and they could be in for a tough season, especially if they are hit by injuries. The new spine of Cherry-Evans, Green, Api Koroisau and Trbojevic looks great on paper, but might take some time to gel. Expect Manly to be much more competitive in 2017, but fall short of the NRL finals. Predicted Finish: 12th-14th.  

All 16 NRL club season previews for 2017

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