Manly Sea Eagles in Vegas. (Image: Manly Sea Eagles/X)

Manly struggled to find footing in the season, and with Tom Trbojevic injured again, the Sea Eagles miss on the eight once again.

Last year

A middle-of-the-pack squad missed the finals in back-to-back years. Despite the great individual season from Daly Cherry-Evans, the club was exposed to their lack of depth and attacking strategy.

Great seasons from Toluatu Koula and some improvement from Taniela Paseka were some of Manly’s best highlights, showing positive signs for their young and long-term players.

Josh Schuster started on a high note as the five-eighth. However, the back-rower has continued struggling behind the scenes with injuries and concerns around conditioning and overall fitness throughout the 2023 campaign.

Throughout the year, they massively recruited for 2024, signing playmaker Luke Brooks from the Tigers, as well as Jaxson Paulo from the Sydney Roosters.

Squad Changes

Ins: Luke Brooks, Aitasi James (Wests Tigers), Jaxson Paulo (Sydney Roosters), Tommy Talau (Wests Tigers), Corey Waddell (Bulldogs)

Outs: Morgan Boyle (unsigned), Samuela Fainu (Wests Tigers), Morgan Harper (Parramatta Eels), Sean Keppie (South Sydney Rabbitohs), Kelma Tuilagi (Parramatta Eels), Christian Tuipulotu (released and signed with the St George Dragons), Kaeo Weekes (Canberra Raiders)

Track Watch

Ben Trbojevic has been a player who has shown in a small sample size his matured game and can fit into Manly’s hardworking and mobile forward pack mould. With Schuster having sickness and injury concerns, the backrower has found himself a starting position to start the season.

Jaxson Paulo has won the left-wing spot, beating Christian Tuipulotu, who has now left the club.

Gordon Chan Kum Tong has impressed the club through Manly’s pathways, and being the current mould of a dummy half, being rewarded the 14 jumper, beating out promising star Jamie Humphreys.

Nathan Brown was recently promoted to the top 30, with a hard-working off-season, impressing Anthony Seibold, who has one of the oldest squads in the competition.

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What to Expect

There are two sides to this…

Manly will either be healthy and have Tom Trbojevic create a huge impact for the Sea Eagles and be a dangerous threat for the premiership trophy.

There’s also another world where Manly continues to struggle against the top eight sides and misses key pieces for significant time that would help Manly win games they should win.

Starting their season in Vegas, they are headlining the kick-off against a Rabbitohs side with not as many significant changes leading into this season.

Both missing key players, this should be a great contest regardless, with the key matchup being the fullbacks.

Throughout the year, expect Luke Brooks to be impressive with fewer responsibilities, focusing on his ball running and taking some pressure off Daly Cherry-Evans, as well as creating open space with superb passing to his fullback.

It’s a big year for:

Luke Brooks

Brooks now joins a club with one goal in mind…a premiership.

After years of struggling to find stability in coaches and quality teammates to have aside him, he now has talented players around him and players who can do what Brooks has struggled to do when it comes to playmaking and putting the ball on the floor in winning games and going to the finals.

Now focusing on doing a few things excellently, it could be a year where Manly wins games and has a redeeming year because guys like Brooks have found success in doing their job in their roles.

Biggest unanswered question?

Will we ever see a quality Manly Sea Eagles without injuries? 

In 2021, Manly was a healthy side after round 5 and had a year like no other in the rugby league history books.

A healthy Tom Trbojevic is a player ready to achieve great things, and with a healthy team, a consistent side week to week, as well as addressing issues like a proper playmaker alongside DCE, Manly might be able to put together a season of masterclass footy and return to the finals once again.

Coach Index

Anthony Seibold – Safe

Only in his second year at the club, Manly and Seibold are on the same page, and as long as the goals don’t change and Manly aren’t panicking, the Sea Eagles shouldn’t have to worry about a coaching change anytime soon.

Round 1 Lineup

  1. Tom Trbojevic 
  2. Jason Saab
  3. Reuben Garrick
  4. Toluatu Koula 
  5. Jaxson Paulo 
  6. Luke Brooks 
  7. Daly Cherry-Evans
  8. Taniela Paseka
  9. Lachlan Croker 
  10. Ethan Bullemore 
  11. Ben Trbjoevic 
  12. Haumole Olakau’atu 
  13. Jake Trbojevic 
  14. Gordon Chan Kum Tong
  15. Toafofoa Sipley
  16. Josh Aloiai
  17. Nathan Brown

Ladder Prediction

Anywhere from the top 4 to 13th. There’s no certainty with the recent history of the Sea Eagles campaigns. 

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