As the National Rugby League season draws closer, we look at how the Manly Sea Eagles will go in 2018.
The Manly Sea Eagles have made some significant changes to their side, and with key positional additions, the club will be aiming to not only make the finals again but potentially reach the top four in 2018.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
Lachlan Croker (Canberra Raiders), Jack Gosiewski (South Sydney Rabbitohs), Toafofoa Sipley (New Zealand Warriors), Joel Thompson (St George-Illawarra Dragons).
Pita Godinet (Wests Tigers), Blake Green (New Zealand Warriors), Brenton Lawrence (retired), Steve Matai (retired), Brett Stewart (retired).
Knights (A), Eels (H), Rabbitohs (A), Raiders (H), Titans (A)
WHAT TO EXPECT
The new-look halves pairing at the Sea Eagles will be a huge factor this season; with another year of their forwards and back three settled they should find enough consistency to make the finals again.
Manly will rely heavily on captain and halfback Daly Cherry-Evans again. He will be paired with a new younger five-eighth in Lachlan Croker and DCE will need to steer the side alongside his new half and be willing to let Croker take control at times. DCE’s form will have a large bearing on the Sea Eagles making the finals again.
Their most important signing is Joel Thompson (Dragons) who has tough match experience and the defence that the Sea Eagles’ left edge has been crying out for. Thompson will contribute a lot with a new half in Croker to defend while also providing his notorious line running; he will be in for a massive year along with fellow backrow forwards Curtis Sironen and Jake Trbojevic.
Manly’s 2018 draw is challenging; with no back-to-back home fixtures til round 13 they’ll need to grab that confidence from last season’s strong away form. They have a mix of tough and easier fixtures through Origin, then coming home for five of the last eight matches against five of 2017’s top eight sides. It’s a slightly harder draw for Manly, but should they play well early then the last fixtures at home will be a great advantage.
Top Tryscorer – Tom Trbojevic
Top Pointscorer – Dylan Walker
Club Player of the Year – Tom Trbojevic
WHERE WILL MANLY FINISH?
Coach Trent Barrett will have pressure on him once again with new signings and other players leaving the club. The tough draw means Manly will need to start well. The new halves pairing should hold the key but if their forwards fire they can still be dominant enough to hold a top eight spot. The changes should be welcomed and with most of the squad holding their positions they’ll finish better than 2017, but not by much.
Manly Sea Eagles to finish fifth.