Manly Sea Eagles – NRL 2013 Season Preview

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MANLY SEA EAGLES 2013 PREVIEW

How will the Silvertails fare in 2013?

Manly finished the 2012 season with possibly their worst performance in several years, going down 40-12 in the preliminary final at the hands of eventual premiers Melbourne Storm.

With an entire off-season to move on from the loss, Manly will start the 2013 season with the belief they have a squad capable of winning the club’s third premiership in six seasons.

Much of the Sea Eagles’ hopes of a successful season will rest upon the shoulders of halves Daly Cherry-Evans and Kieran Foran. After a stellar year in 2011 it was always going to be difficult for the two young halves to reach anywhere near such heights in 2012 and while neither player had years to forget they would both be looking for a more consistent 2013. The addition of recently inducted Immortal Andrew Johns to the coaching staff will certainly be a bonus for the pair.

In recent years the Sea Eagles have been at their best on the back of brutal defence, especially from their big men in the middle and the likes of Glenn Stewart and Anthony Watmough on the edges. While the experience of Brent Kite, Jason King, Watmough and Stewart will be vital if Manly are to be title contenders it is time for the younger brigade to make their presence felt, especially following the loss of the dynamic Tony Williams to the Bulldogs.

Manly’s attack remains heavily reliant on fullback Brett Stewart. When out through injury, as has often been the case in recent years, Manly do struggle to put points on the board without Stewart injecting himself into the line out wide or providing support up the middle of the field.

The Sea Eagles season kicks off with a blockbuster against the Broncos at Suncorp Stadium.

TEAM CHANGES

LOST

Despite having an injury and suspension plagued 2012, Tony Williams will be sorely missed by the club. T-Rex developed into a New South Wales and Australian representative after playing an important role in the 2011 premiership winning team so his loss cannot be underestimated.

Supporters will feel aggrieved at the loss of promising local juniors Darcy Lussick (Eels) and Michael Oldfield (Roosters). Lussick, in particular, had shown signs he could be a potential Origin player of the future, while Oldfield had speed to burn out wide.

The club also released Liam Foran and local junior Vic Mauro to English Super League club Salford City only two weeks ago.

Also lost:

Dean Whare (Panthers)
Daniel Harrison (Eels),
Josh Drinkwater (Dragons)

GAINED

With their salary cap under pressure Manly were not in the market to sign any big names to bolster their squad in 2013. The most notable signings were front rower Richie Fa’aoso from the Melbourne Storm (via Newcastle Knights) and Eels back rower Justin Horo.

After falling out of favour with Wayne Bennett at the Knights, Fa’aoso made the move to Melbourne in the middle of last season and ended up with a premiership ring (and probably a tattoo) for his trouble. With the ability to hit hard in defence Fa’aoso will be more than useful off the bench.

Horo will be hoping to revive his NRL career having been released from the final year of his contract with the Parramatta Eels. A regular first-grader only a few of years ago Horo has rarely been selected to play in the NRL for the Eels in the past couple of seasons.

The Sea Eagles also signed several fringe first-graders and some promising players out of last year’s Toyota Cup as they look to the future.

Other gains:

James Hasson (Sharks)
Ben Musolino (Dragons)
Brenton Lawrence (Titans)
Dane Chisholm (Wests Tigers)
Jacob Gagan (Eels NYC)
David Gower (Dragons)
Jesse Sene-Lefao (Panthers)
Kayne Lawton (Titans)
Esi Tonga (Eels)
Peta Hiku (Warriors)
Ligi Sao (Warriors)
Michael Chee-Kam (Raiders)

Jorge Taufua

Jorge Taufua – at his destructive best can win Manly matches (Photo: Getty Images)

PLAYER TO WATCH

If Jorge Taufua improves on his debut season in 2012 he will certainly be more than a handful for opposition defences. Last year the winger made the equal third most line breaks in the NRL (28) to go along with his 10 tries. Such was Taufua’s form towards the end of the season he was named man-of-the-match in the Sea Eagles semi-final win over the North Queensland Cowboys. A pretty good effort for a winger.

As long as Taufua avoids the dreaded second-year syndrome and the nightspots on the Gold Coast he will have a successful 2013.

YOUNG GUNS

Manly have poached some excellent young talent in the past 12 months from rival clubs including some standouts from last year’s National Youth Competition.

Peta Hiku and Ligi Sao have moved to the Northern Beaches after they both had strong seasons for the Warriors Under 20’s team in 2012. Outside back Hiku was selected in the Junior Kiwis after being named Warriors’ U20s Player of the Year, while prop Sao lead his teammates in metres gained for the season.

Named in the Toyota Cup Team of the Year back rower Michael Chee-Kam signed with the Sea Eagles in May last year much to the dismay of the Canberra Raiders. Following the signing, the Raiders even questioned how the Sea Eagles could afford Chee-Kam’s three-year deal.

Chee-Kam will be pushing for a spot in the 17 following the departure of three back rowers in the off-season

WHY THEY CAN BE PREMIERS

A large part of Manly’s squad has been there before. This includes co-captains Jamie Lyon and Jason King, as well as Kangaroos back rowers Glenn Stewart and Watmough and the all-important “spine” in Brett Stewart, Kieran Foran, Cherry-Evans and Matt Ballin. If the Sea Eagles are to be there on grand final day they will need these players on the park and playing well at the business end of the season.

This squad also plays well with a siege mentality, so if for any reason the media and/or public jump on their backs it will only motivate them to do better. Manly is a club that loves to be hated.

WHY THEY CAN’T BE PREMIERS

Depth. The club appears to have tried to address the issue by recruiting a number of fringe first-graders and some up-and-coming stars, however it is hard to ignore the poor performances from the club’s NSW Cup and Toyota Cup teams in 2012. Both teams finished in the bottom three of their respective competitions, which is certainly not a good sign if a number of NRL players succumb to medium to long-term injuries. Manly’s 2012 season was disrupted by injuries and suspension and with this came some very inconsistent performances.

The Sea Eagles strength, being experience, may also be their achilles heel as they have become so reliant on the same core group of players to perform at such a high level the team can appear lost without them on the field.

Will the coach see the year out?

Yes. Geoff Toovey took the club to a top four finish in his first year as head coach in 2012. Having spilt more blood on the field than any other player wearing the Sea Eagles jersey in the last 25 years the former Blues and Kangaroos halfback/hooker is a certainty to keep his job for at least another few years.

Toovey served his apprenticeship under Des Hasler, considered by some as the best coach in the game at the moment. Choosing coaches that have the ability to go berserk at the drop of a hat has certainly worked wonders for the club of late.

PREDICTED FINISH: 5TH

Comments

Beaver Menzies says:

Excellent article, Ben.. look forward to reading some more from you soon and Carn the Eagles in 2013 !!


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Ben LarsenBen Larsen

About Ben Larsen

Passionate about a number of sports since a very early age, Ben wasn’t fortunate enough to be talented at any of them. With his days as a “sportsman” well behind him he has had to resort to a life spent sitting at a desk in the finance world. Most spare time is spent watching the NRL, Super 15, the men wearing the baggy green or any other sporting contest he can find on the box.

SPORTS : NRL, Rugby Union, Cricket, AFL, NFL, Baseball, Boxing, Synchronised swimming

NRL : Manly Sea Eagles, NSW

Rugby Union: Waratahs, Wallabies

Cricket: NSW, Australia

AFL : Sydney Swans

MLB: Detroit Tigers

NFL : Miami Dolphins

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