It was a season to forget for Manly, plummeting from the finals to the bottom four.
2020 Club Record
Competition Points: 14
2020 Player Achievements
Most Tries: Jorge Taufua (7)
Most Points: Reuben Garrick (98)
After making the semi-finals in 2019, Manly would have fancied another finals appearance in 2020.
However, their season fell apart after one crucial injury.
Manly started the season well, beating the Sydney Roosters, Canterbury-Bankstown, and Brisbane (fighting back from 18-0 down); they should have beaten Parramatta at the death, but Reuben Garrick’s match-winning try was disallowed due to an incorrect forward pass call, with NRL head of football Graham Annesley admitting they’d got it wrong (again!).
Manly entered their round six clash against Canberra in good spirits: they’d made a habit of beating the Raiders (including twice last year), and the Raiders’ home game had been moved to Campbelltown Stadium due to COVID-19, which suited Manly.
While the Sea Eagles won 14-6 (leading 12-0 at halftime with tries to Tom Trbojevic and Tevita Funa), a hamstring injury to Tommy T overshadowed the win. Dylan Walker and Brad Parker had already succumbed in the first few minutes, and Tommy T went off in the second half. After playing 12 games in 2019, he wouldn’t return until round 19 against the Titans. He was hoping to be picked for Origin by playing in the final two rounds, but injured his shoulder to miss Origin selection – though his brother Jake played for NSW in Origin I, and Daly Cherry-Evans captained QLD.
Manly would win just three more games to finish an unlucky 13th, including back-to-back wins in rounds 10 (Parramatta) and 11 (North Queensland). Their last win was in round 18 against Canterbury, and they only won three games at Brookvale/Lottoland.
They had some heavy losses too: 40-22 (Cronulla-Sutherland), 34-4 (St George Illawarra), 42-12 (Penrith), 56-16 (South Sydney), 30-6 (Melbourne), 42-24 (Gold Coast), and 40-28 (NZ Warriors).
Arguably their worst loss was to the Wests Tigers in round 17 at Brookvale. Leading 32-18 with 10 minutes left (two tries to Morgan Harper, and singles to Jorge Taufua, Jack Gosiewski, Tevita Funa, and Jake Trbojevic), Manly conceded three tries to lose 34-32.
At the end of the season, Manly held an informal breakfast presentation at Brookvale, with awards going to Tevita Funa (rookie of the year), Garrick (leading pointscorer), Taufua (leading tryscorer), Curtis Sironen (Steve Menzies Medal – play of the year), and Toafofoa Sipley (NRL Academic Team of the Year). They held back the Roy Bull ‘Best and Fairest’ Award, the Players’ Player award, and the Doug Daley Clubman of the Year until the 2021 season launch.
There was some good news to end the year, with Kieran Foran returning next season. He played 147 games for the Sea Eagles from 2009-15, including their 2011 premiership. Can he take Manly back to the finals in 2021?
NothingButLeague Player of the Season
Curtis Sironen built on his strong 2019 (22 games) with another 18 appearances in 2020. The second-rower scored three tries, made five line breaks, 529 tackles (with a tackle efficiency of 90.3%), and ran for 1911 metres (averaging 106/game). In a dirty year for Manly, Sironen’s consistency stood out. Hopefully he can capitalise with another big year in 2021.
2021 GAINS AND LOSSES
Andrew Davey (Parramatta Eels, 2022), Kieran Foran (Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs, 2021).
Brendan Elliot (released), Addin Fonua-Blake (New Zealand Warriors), Danny Levi (released), Sam Smith (released), Joel Thompson (St Helens RLFC), Corey Waddell (Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs), Tony Williams (released).