A new head coach and a few signings see the Manly Sea Eagles head into the season with a new positive attitude, as we take a look at their prospects for 2019.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
Lewis Brown (released), Brian Kelly (Gold Coast Titans), Shaun Lane (Parramatta Eels), Joey Lussick (Salford Red Devils), Akuila Uate (Huddersfield Giants), Jonathan Wright (Retired), Tom Wright (Rugby union)
Wests Tigers (Away), Roosters (Home), Warriors (Home), Rabbitohs (Home), Knights (Away)
WHAT TO EXPECT
The Sea Eagles will have their work cut out for them in 2019. In a disappointing 2018, they finished 15th (nearly receiving their first ever wooden spoon), and with only a few signings that are not high calibre, it’s a concern. The expectation under coach Des Hasler is their overall balance in attack and defence will improve, with Hasler having a greater defensive stance. It was off-field problems and injuries which threw the Sea Eagles’ season astray, but if they have their first string side for most of the season they could push for higher expectations and even back to the finals. A defining factor is their depth, if the backs especially start to fall to injury it will be tough to have quality across the park. With one of the weaker benches, they might find it hard to challenge stronger sides.
One of the key signings for the maroon and white is Kane Elgey, who will join Daly Cherry-Evans in the halves to start the season. A welcome addition, Elgey will be in the thick of the side’s plans, with pressure also on him coming into this side who need a stability half. Kane will make the biggest impact out of any of the signings, knowing what his role is to a side that needs more polish in applying pressure and producing more options at the end of sets. Brendan Elliot (also from the Gold Coast) could be another important signing; with stocks in the backline short he could well be able to find his place on the edges and go to another level with consistent playing time.
A lot of Manly’s fortunes in 2019 will fall once again on star fullback Tom Trbojevic. The young star – now a few seasons into his already stellar career – will need to have another phenomenal year for Manly to be a contender. Trbojevic was also able to crack into the Blues State of Origin side while also finishing strong after the series for Manly. Guided by club legend Brett Stewart, Tom will lift to another level with his involvement in try assists, line breaks and his run metres to be that nearly unstoppable well-rounded fullback people have come to see at his best, and lift Manly from the bottom.
Manly’s draw is quite favourable. They have seven matches at Brookvale, with two “home” games at Christchurch and Brisbane within the first 11 rounds. Their toughest run in the year is through the middle with only one match at Brookvale and two trips to Queensland to face the Cowboys and the Titans in three weeks. At the backend of the draw, Manly could come home strong, only playing two 2018 finals teams (the Warriors and Storm) which could be a great challenge for them if they head into finals.
Teams they play once:
Broncos, Bulldogs, Cowboys, Panthers, Roosters, Sharks.
Teams they play twice:
Dragons, Eels, Knights, Rabbitohs, Raiders, Storm, Warriors, Wests Tigers.
Thursday – Two, Friday – Four, Saturday – Thirteen, Sunday – Five.
Top Tryscorer – Jade Anderson
Top Pointscorer – Daly Cherry-Evans
Club Player of the Year – Curtis Sironen