The Newsroom previews each team for the 2015 National Rugby League season. Today, the Manly Sea Eagles.
Times have become tough for the once high-flying Manly Sea Eagles after losing two of their key players, Glenn Stewart and Anthony Watmough, in the off season. However, big-game experience is a must for all NRL teams – something which has been added to the squad with recent signings.
Last season – 2nd place
In: Luke Burgess (South Sydney Rabbitohs), Blake Leary (North Queensland Cowboys), Willie Mason and Brayden Wiliame (Newcastle Knights), Feleti Mateo (New Zealand Warriors), Siosaia Vave (Cronulla Sharks).
Out: Daniel Harrison (London Broncos), Jason King (retired), Epalahame Lauaki (Bradford Bullls), Glenn Stewart (South Sydney Rabbitohs), Anthony Watmough (Parramatta Eels).
Strengths: The Sea Eagles are still a powerhouse of the competition, and have the ability to step up to the plate when big games are on the line. One of the early favourites of the competition, this team has been anything but unsuccessful in recent years, and can only improve on their stellar form in 2015. The Sea Eagles have finished in the top four three times in the last five years, and have made the grand final twice, coming out premiers in 2011. This team is not to be underestimated during the 2015 season.
Weaknesses: The loss of long time teammates Glenn Stewart and Anthony Watmough will no doubt have a devastating effect – without them, the size of Manly’s forward pack is significantly decreased. Also recent developments today regarding key playmaker Daly Cherry-Evans have dealt a huge blow to the Sea Eagles, after the club withdrew a bid to re-sign him. Fellow playmaker Kieran Foran is also poised to sign a deal with Parramatta, which will see him join teammate Anthony Watmough next season.
Key player: Jamie Lyon. One of the most experienced players in the squad, Lyon is able to play almost any position with super-speed to match. He will be a key player in determining Manly’s premiership chances this season.
Coach: Geoff Toovey: aggressive; opinionated; leader. Say what you want about Geoff Toovey, but he has proven time and time again that he deserves a premiership. After leading his team to the semi finals in his first year of coaching before being downed by Melbourne, some would say that he can’t finish the job. 2015 is the year to prove he can.
Prediction: 4th. Despite losing a string of key players, Manly will be a force to be reckoned with in 2015, and still pose a threat to most teams premiership aspirations. – Benjamin Potter
Top photo from Naparazzi’s Flickr photostream.