Recap of last season
Last season was a season that everyone at Brookvale Oval would rather forget. Good thing is, after wiping the slate clean, that is a distinct possibility.
Des Hasler has been replaced by Anthony Siebold, and five-eighth Kieran Foran has moved on, to be replaced by Josh Schuster who has shown flashes previously.
2022 was a year filled with promise, that quickly fell away, as the club collapsed in on itself, and on-field star Tom Trbojevic watched on from the sidelines.
Few will forget the saga around the Pride kit, but it was the flow on effects that spilled into the side, causing a string of losses and the side to fall out of contention for finals.
How they can improve
Keeping Tom Trbojevic is low-hanging fruit in this category, but it's true. The Sea-Eagles win more than two-thirds of their games with him on the park, and just one-third of their games with him watching from the sidelines.
Much has been made of his stint in the USA over the offseason, seeing various gurus and experts to help him get back on the park. If Trbojevic plays a big chunk of the season, the Sea Eagles are going to threaten for finals.
Incoming coach Anthony Siebold is expected to stamp his vision on the side too, with a distinct game plan as a feature of his coaching. If the Sea Eagles can bring Siebold's vision to life, it will go a long way to a competitive showing in 2023.
Ins: Kelma Tuilagi (Wests Tigers), Ben Condon (North Queensland Cowboys), Cooper Johns (Melbourne Storm), Nathaniel Roache (Parramatta Eels)
Outs: Dylan Walker (New Zealand Warriors), Kieran Foran (Gold Coast Titans), Andrew Davey (Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs), Martin Taupau (Brisbane Broncos), Kurt de Luis
Daly Cherry-Evans has been a talisman for Manly for years, and his experience as a field general, quarterbacking the attack will be crucial. His ability to steer the side around the park is matched by few players around the competition.
Cherry-Evans' ability to create opportunities for the speedsters in the backline has been on show in the preseason, and the Sea-Eagles have shown that they can score from anywhere on the park if given an inch of space.
Reuben Garrick and Christian Tuipulotu will be the big beneficiaries of Cherry-Evans' abilities, but Trbojevic may have a season for the ages if he can stay healthy.
Manly's depth took a hit in the offseason, with Dylan Walker, Martin Taupau and Andrew Davey taking up opportunities at other clubs. The club's forward depth is significantly reduced and will be fighting to stay in games at times.
Given that the forward line struggled at times last year, even with Walker and Taupau. Without them, there is a clear vulnerability that the Sea-Eagles could be exposed to the bigger packs in the competition.
The Sea-Eagles will be depending heavily on some of their younger forwards developing, as well as new recruits like Kelma Tuilagi and Ben Condon.
Josh Schuster is an unusual case because he has been seen at NRL level before. But until now, he hasn't played five-eighth. With Foran's departure, there is an opportunity for Schuster to make the position his own.
Schuster gave up the chance to represent Samoa over the offseason to make sure that he was fit enough to handle the responsibilities of playing five-eighth.
A calf injury has disrupted his pre-season, and he will miss the first match of the season, but will be looking to make an impact on his return to fitness, and lock up the five-eighth jersey.
With a blank slate, it's hard to predict exactly how everything will play out. Expect Anthony Siebold to bring something different to the table from a tactical perspective, and the Sea-Eagles face a difficult slate early while adjusting to the game plan.
If Josh Schuster can find his feet, and potentially get the team going forward in attack quickly, it presents an opportunity for Tom Trbojevic to operate with more space, if healthy.
Lot's of "ifs" about this prediction, but the skeleton of this side has shown that it can contend at the highest level, especially if "Tommy Turbo" is on the park. Predicting he will stay healthy is predicting that this side will be in contention for finals late in the year.
Ladder Position: 9th
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