As the National Rugby League season draws closer, we look at how Manly Warringah will go in 2021.
Manly will celebrate their 75th anniversary in 2021, and will be eyeing a finals return.Embed from Getty Images
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
As at 10th February 2021
Josh Aloiai, Morgan Boyle, Daly Cherry-Evans, Lachlan Croker, Cade Cust, Andrew Davey, Manase Fainu, Kieran Foran, Tevita Funa, Reuben Garrick, Jack Gosiewski, Morgan Harper, Sean Keppie, Tolutau Koula, Haumole Olakau’ata, Brad Parker, Taniela Paseka, Jason Saab, Joshua Schuster, Toafofoa Sipley, Curtis Sironen, Moses Suli, Jorge Taufua, Martin Taupau, Ben Trbojevic, Jake Trbojevic, Tom Trbojevic, Christian Tuipulotu, Dylan Walker.
Josh Aloiai (Wests Tigers, 2023), Andrew Davey (Parramatta Eels, 2022), Sione Fainu (2021), Kieran Foran (Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs, 2021), Tolutau Koula (2022), Jason Saab (St George Illawarra Dragons, 2023), Christian Tuipulotu (Sydney Roosters, 2024), Alec Tuitavake (2021), Kaeo Weekes (2021).
Brendan Elliot (released), Addin Fonua-Blake (New Zealand Warriors), Danny Levi (released), Luke Metcalf (Cronulla Sharks), Abbas Miski (London Broncos), Brayden Musgrove (Newcastle Knights), Sam Smith (released), Joel Thompson (St Helens RLFC), Corey Waddell (Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs), Tony Williams (released).
Sydney Roosters (A), South Sydney (H), St George Illawarra (A), Penrith (H), NZ Warriors (A).
WHAT TO EXPECT
Manly’s 2020 season all but ended after Tom Trbojevic’s injury against Canberra in round six: the fall down the ladder was ugly, with just three more wins and a lot of heavy losses.
Assuming Tommy Turbo stays fit, then Manly – bolstered by the returning 2011 premiership hero Kieran Foran – will be aiming for the top eight. They’ll have a tough start, playing the Sydney Roosters, Souths, and Penrith in their opening five rounds. It gets a bit easier from there, with just eight more games against 2020 finals teams from rounds six to 25: Parramatta and Canberra twice, Newcastle, Cronulla-Sutherland, a return game against Penrith, and Melbourne. If they can nab two to three wins in the first five rounds, they’ll be set for a decent run.Embed from Getty Images
As well as Foran, Manly have signed Josh Aloiai, Andrew Davey, Sione Fainu, Tolutau Koula, Jason Saab, Christian Tuipulotu, Alec Tuitavake, and Kaeo Weekes.
The crucial element will be the combination of Daly Cherry-Evans and Foran. DCE is growing as a player after captaining the Queensland Origin team to victory last year, so having Foran’s experience back at Brookvale could allow DCE to flourish, as it may take the spotlight off him slightly.Embed from Getty Images
The big issue is Foran’s fitness, as he only averaged 13 games a season in his three years at Canterbury-Bankstown. Dylan Walker will be pushing for a big year after only playing seven games last season: if he and Tommy Turbo stay on the park, then Manly should be in the finals mix.Embed from Getty Images
Another key to Manly’s resurgence will be making Lottoland/Brookvale a fortress again (after only winning one game there in 2020). It won’t be easy: they play five top eight teams out of nine games there (Souths, Penrith, Canberra, Melbourne, Parramatta).Embed from Getty Images
It’s hard to see Manly being as bad as they were last year: assuming the injury gods are kinder to them, and coupled with a decent draw, they should hit the bottom part of the top eight. A nice way to celebrate their 75th anniversary.Embed from Getty Images
Top Tryscorer – Jason Saab.Embed from Getty Images
Top Pointscorer – Reuben Garrick.Embed from Getty Images
Club Player of the Year – Tom Trbojevic.Embed from Getty Images