2023 Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles Preview

After a tumultuous 2022 season that played host to wholesale management changes both on the pitch and in the boardroom, Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles take the first step in building to another NRL title with the 2023 season under new coach Anthony Seibold.

Preview

SQUAD

Alec Tu’itavake, Ben Trbojevic, Ben Condon, Brad Parker, Christian Tuipulotu, Daly Cherry-Evans, Ethan Bullemor, Haumole Olakau’atu, Jake Trbojevic, Jason Saab, Josh Aloiai, Josh Schuster, Kaeo Weekes, Karl Lawton, Kelma Tuilagi, Lachlan Croker, Morgan Boyle, Morgan Harper, Raymond Vaega, Reuben Garrick, Sean Keppie, Taniela Paseka, Tom Trbojevic, Toafofoa Sipley, Tolutau Koula, Viliami Fifita, Zac Fulton, Fletcher Myers, Gordon Chan Kum Tong, Jacob Sykes, Jamie Humphreys. Coach: Anthony Seibold.

BEST SEVENTEEN

1. Tom Trbojevic 2. Reuben Garrick 3. Tolu Koula 4. Brad Parker 5. Christian Tuipulotu 6. Josh Schuster 7. Daly Cherry-Evans 8. Josh Aloiai 9. Lachlan Croker 10. Taniela Paseka 11. Haumole Ola’kauatu 12. Kelma Tuilagi 13. Jake Trbojevic 14. Ben Trbojevic 15. Sean Keppie 16. Toafofoa Sipley 17. Ethan Bullemor

BEST SIGNING

Kelma Tuilagi

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The Sea Eagles have made limited moves this season with their player personal, signing just four players: Ben Condon, Cooper Johns, Nathaniel Roache, and Kelma Tuilagi. Of the four, Samoan international Tuilagi looks the best of the four and has impressed so far in pre-season – most notably against Sydney Roosters as an influential part of the Sea Eagles’ win.

However, Manly’s most influential – for good or for bad – signing this year has undoubtedly come off the field with long time head coach Des Hasler being replaced by Anthony Seibold following a shock fallout with the club. He will either be a pivotal galvanising force for the squad or the turmoil will continued, either way it makes for a fascinating season.

KEY PLAYER

Tom Trbojevic

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The Ferrari that is kept in the garage too often – Tom Trbojevic. As we have seen over the past few seasons, Turbo’s fitness is the crux upon which Manly’s season rests; he is arguably the most valuable player relative to his team in the league.

His fitness is something which he has already struggled with in the lead up to this 2023 season, though he is set to start Round One. It’s common knowledge how much talent and game winning skill the Sea Eagles’ star has, so hopefully he can stay on the pitch and convert for the birds this year.

PLAYER TO WATCH

Kaeo Weekes

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Kaeo Weekes came into the Manly squad at the back end of last season, featuring at off the bench and at fullback. He has impressed through the pre-season trials and most recently got high praise from his coach along with new signing Kelma Tuilagi and development player Gordon Chan Kum Tong after their win against title hopefuls Sydney Roosters.

He fits the Anthony Seibold bench mould, with the new Manly head coach keen to include extra outside backs on the bench at his previous jobs in the NRL, so he could well make the 14 shirt his own and provide some highlights off the pine.

PREVIEW

It is shaping up as though Josh Schuster will be given the keys to the 6 jersey this season after a patchy 13 appearance load last season. Within those appearances – when he was fit and motivated – he showed flashes of brilliance that signalled him as a potential game changer for the Sea Eagles.

If Schuster can maintain that level of play for the duration of the season, then Manly will be set with a better halves pairing than they have had in recent years and should thrive off the back of that. That will negate the loss of Kieran Foran.

He will provide another quality attacking outlet for the likes of Tom Trbojevic and the outside backs to capitalise on and though the pack has remained for the most part the same, the younger starters have had another year of development and they are now growing into a mean machine.

Former Sea Eagles utility Dylan Walker’s (when fit) influence will be tough to replace on their bench but it does give a younger and more durable player the chance to develop and step up to the mantle.

The kick off the season with a mixed first five games, first up against the Bulldogs at home, then Paramatta Eels (H), Sydney Rabbitohs (A), Newcastle Knights (H), Penrith Panthers (A) complete the start to their season. The Sea Eagles should come away with at least three wins from their first five – which is absolutely feasible – if they want to avoid similar woes to last season. Regardless, with a mixed bag like that we should have a good gauge on the rebuilding Manly side after their opening stint.

Their run home should be interesting too – depending on where they land in the table – with title favourites Penrith Panthers and Sydney Roosters in Round 24 and 23 respectively, while they could coast home with games against the Warriors, Bulldogs, and Wests Tigers in Round 25-27. Overall, however, Manly have the third hardest draw in the competition, playing last year’s top eight teams 13 times, the top four 7 times, the bottom eight 10 times and the bottom four just 6 times.

They have the squad to deal with it and, with Tom Trbojevic fit, the possibilities are endless.

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