NRL 2021 Season Preview: Manly Warringah Sea Eagles

After missing the finals in 2020, the Sea Eagles will be looking for consistency as a new-look squad takes shape.

Preseason Training. Picture: Manly Media.

Finishing 2020 13th on the ladder and with several injuries, Manly look to continue to struggle to secure some wins early on this season.

What to expect

A focus on the side’s defence is simply the key.

In 2020, Manly conceded on average 25 points per game, only less than North Queensland and wooden spooners Brisbane.

Manly will bring in upcoming stars Jason Saab and Christian Tuipulotu to add some depth into the backline. Filling the spot left by Joel Thompson in the back row is potentially Andrew Davey.

Up forward, Manly may have lost prop Addin Fonua-Blake, however gained forward Josh Aloiai who was released from the West Tigers, searching for more game time in first grade. Not a like for like swap, but Aloiai presents Manly with a tireless prop ready to make a name for himself under Des Hasler.

Manly will desperately be looking to secure wins at home this season.

From seven home games in 2020, Manly won only a single game at Lottoland. This season sees the Sea Eagles play six of their final nine home games at home. While at this stage, it should be clear who will be making finals, these games will be pivotal should it come down to the wire for the final two spots in the top eight.

The likelihood of Manly fighting for a spot in the eight is higher than already securing a spot. After a puzzling decision to not begin this year with a recognized number nine. It’s hard to picture the Sea Eagles make the eight without the position filled, but it wouldn’t be impossible.

Coach Des Hasler rejoined the club in 2019 and took his side from 15th the year prior, to making the finals in 2019. If history is to repeat itself, Hasler is the man to transform the sides performance once again.

Key matchup

Manly is fixtured to play Penrith twice in the first eight rounds. The Panthers who finished runners-up in 2020 provide a true test to see if Manly has the ability to be contenders in 2021. For an extra challenge, Manly will be without Tom Trbojevic for the opening rounds of the season which rules him out for the first encounter against the Panthers.  

The start of Manly’s season is combined with matches against the Roosters and the Rabbitohs. This tricky start is not exactly the way Manly would have hoped to begin their campaign.

Squad

Josh Aloiai, Morgan Boyle, Daly Cherry-Evans, Lachlan Croker, Cade Cust, Andrew Davey, Manase Fainu, Kieran Foran, Tevita Funa, Reuben Garrick, Jack Goaiewski, Morgan Harper, Sean Keppie, Tolutau Koula, Haumole Olakau’atu, Brad Parker, Taniela Paseka, Jason Saab, Josh Schuster, Toafofoa Sipley, Curtis Sironen, Moses Suli, Jorge Taufua, Martin Taupau, Keith Titmuss, Ben Trbojevic, Jake Trbojevic ,Tom Trbojevic, Christian Tuipulotu, Dylan Walker

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