The 2020 season is nearly upon us; with each team in the NRL taking shape for their final pre-season hit-outs we look at how the Manly Sea Eagles will go this year.
Des Hasler’s return last year saw Manly back to their best, but they will look to go better throughout the year, cement a spot in the top four and give themselves a realistic premiership hope.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
Api Koroisau (Penrith Panthers).
TOP 30 SQUAD: Morgan Boyle, Daly Cherry-Evans, Lachlan Croker, Cade Cust, Brendan Elliott, Manase Fainu*, Addin Fonua-Blake, Tevita Funa, Reuben Garrick, Jack Gosiewski, Albert Hopoate, Sean Keppie, Danny Levi, Luke Metcalf, Brayden Musgrove, Haumolo Olakau’uta, Brad Parker, Taniela Paseka, Toafofa Sipley, Curtis Sironen, Sam Smith, Moses Suli, Jorge Taufua, Martin Taupau, Joel Thompson, Jake Trbojevic, Tom Trbojevic, Corey Waddell, Dylan Walker, Tony Williams.
*Fainu is currently suspended under the NRL’s no-fault stand-down policy.
SPOTS AVAILABLE: None.
Storm (H), Roosters (A), Warriors (H), Raiders (A), Knights (H).
WHAT TO EXPECT
The Sea Eagles head into this season with a lot of expectation from fans and the rest of the competition.
Tipped to be in the lower portion of the ladder last year, they pushed for top four aspirations but – struggling with troops – limped into the finals; they found late form to nearly make the preliminary final, showing that if fully fit in 2020 they will be tough to handle.
The main weapon for Manly this year will be Tom Trbojevic once again; so damaging and elusive across the field, he is a top-shelf player in the NRL who lifts his side’s attack tremendously.
Trbojevic has to stay fit for the Sea Eagles to win the premiership; his absence in 2019 (only playing 12 matches) really frustrated his side, but if he can stay consistent in 2020 and help the spine, it should make the difference in Manly making the top four and potentially a premiership.
New recruit Danny Levi will be under a lot of pressure at his new club; with the Sea Eagles losing both their preferred hookers for this season in Manase Fainu suspended and Api Koroisau moving on, Levi is a huge piece to this side for his first year.
The opportunities to run and play his natural game were limited at Newcastle, with the Knights not having the style of game that helps him flourish. This move should see the best of his skill set with it being similar to the previous rakes of the past few campaigns.
The start of 2020 is a rough string of matches for the northern beaches team, with three of the first four encounters against last season’s top four teams, including both grand finalists away.
If they can’t jag a few wins in their opening fixtures it will be an uphill climb to reach their top four goal. Rounds five to eleven sees them host five games, which will be a crucial time to get as many wins as possible to build that formidable home ground advantage they are used to having.
Top Tryscorer – Reuben Garrick.
Top Pointscorer – Reuben Garrick.
Club Player of the Year – Tom Trbojevic.
WHERE WILL THE MANLY SEA EAGLES FINISH?
The expectation for this Manly side is top four and a potential premiership; with some other sides from last year taking bigger hits in their spine – or team – overall, they will have the chance if they’re fit enough to finish as high as possible.
The roadblocks for their success is managing rep players as well as any injuries, as they became the bane of their bounce-back 2019. If a bit of luck goes their way, and they get a strong enough start to their season, the top four is highly probable.