Record: 14 wins, 10 losses
Ladder Position: 6th (first week finals)
Player of the Year: Daly Cherry-Evans
The season for the Manly Sea Eagles brought in many new faces for the club and its supporters, with the balance of their spine and full squad being fit throughout the year it was a successful return to form.
Having two of the worst injury riddled seasons the Manly side was able to have reach finals and show that their rebuilding of the club has been fast tracked and now shows great long-term improvements for the years to come with key signings to help the existing playing group.
Many had the Sea Eagles in the bottom of the ladder coming into the 2017 season but the stability of their side with Trent Barrett learning a lot over his first year in coaching the Manly side were able to reach heights of finals while having some enormous wins and losses which they will benefit for in the next season.
Trent Barrett proves his coaching
A year under his belt Trent Barrett had come to grips on how the first grade coaching life can be. Coming into another season as head coach it was worrying signs after the first two rounds losing both home games the fans were already having Barrett sacked without him seeing out his second year of his contract.
A galvanize and quick smart attitude had Trent bond and get his side to enjoy football to see them get their season underway. Despite early woes the side was able to complete the season just making it into finals with a rollercoaster season with strong performances in patches and some heavy losses.
Barrett has proved in only his second full season coaching that he can do an incredible job by naming the right leader to captain in Daly Cherry-Evans to steer his side but with great comradery that you can see in the playing group and how they want to perform for their coach each week striving to learn, win and play outstanding footy for Manly.
Key buys and a gamble
After two horrific seasons for the club with injuries there were many decisions to be made with the roster after key players had moved on and cap space was being used in not only keeping existing stars but legends who were still receiving also.
One key buy done by the Sea Eagles was acquiring five-eighth Blake Green fresh off a grand final with the Melbourne Storm the previous year. It was the perfect option to assist Daly Cherry-Evans and work as foil for everything that he would do, Green had a tremendous season finishing with the most forced line drop outs and numerous 40/20’s which went a long way in returning his halves partner Cherry-Evans into playing his best football that we’ve not seen since Kieran Foran had departed.
Another key buy was signing second rower Curtis Sironen from the Wests Tigers. Sironen having only played 27 matches in the last two seasons it was a new start for the young forward, pairing up with a strong right hand side Curtis was able to provide superb defence inside his captain and halfback DCE while showing much improvement from years gone by. He will no doubt have benefitted from playing more games and securing a crucial position in the side which will definitely show come next season.
A gamble by Barrett was on the cards when he was able to sign Akuila Uate from the Newcastle Knights. Not only was this a massive decision it showed how poetic it can be to see a player moving back down to lower grades can then be reinvigorated in another side and perform as he had many years before. Uate had a standout season for the Manly side combining amazingly with his pairing centre Dylan Walker to pile on 14 tries for himself and provide incredible metres gained for his side to get up and down the field.
The 2017 season for the Manly Sea Eagles will go down as a fight back after painful years trying to recapture their dominance of the last decade, the brothers of Jake and Tom Trbojevic were massive components in many ways, having only played a couple of seasons between them they had an extraordinary campaign.
Jake was able to complete his third full season with a permanent move to lock forward, the young star was consistent on and off the ball being aggressive in the middle of the park with his other forwards while providing brilliant passing and offloads to support his back to score or make plays to win matches. The Manly lock was able to secure a spot in the test match team as well as the NSW Blues squad with his performances while picking up the award for people’s choice of best player in the side. More honors await Jake with a chance to feature in this year’s world cup which could propel him into 2018 playing even better.
Tom Trbojevic came into the season as the starting fullback for the first time in his career; now having experience at first grade in different positions Trbojevic has now cemented himself as one of the best fullbacks in the game. Tom was able to support his team in many ways this season taking hit ups when needed but more importantly setting up 19 trys, 24 line breaks and scoring 12 tries himself while capping off a tremendous season with a maiden finals series. The young Sea Eagles back having consistent games under him in the fullback position will have Tom come out even better in the 2018 season to significantly help the Manly side’s chances of a premiership.
These Trbojevic brothers will be a sight to behold in the coming years linking with one another in the middle of the field with spectacular plays as they have done all season and likely do so for Australia and the Blues. Their mature minds paired with their youth could catapult them into genuine rugby league legends and provide years of success to the Manly club in the near future.
2018 GAINS AND LOSSES
GAINS: Toafofoa Sipley (Warriors)
LOSSES: Steve Matai (retired), Nate Myles (released), Brett Stewart (retired), Brenton Lawrence (Titans)
OFF CONTRACT: Billy Bainbridge, Kelepi Tanginoa, Jorge Taufua, Johnnie Walker