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HomeSportsNRL 2023: Manly Sea Eagles season preview

NRL 2023: Manly Sea Eagles season preview

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There’s nothing quite like ripping it all up and starting again. Manly have done just that after enduring a miserable campaign last season that took in such dreary sights as the pride jersey saga, yet another Tom Trbojevic injury, and the eventual dismissal of their former premiership-winning coach Des Hasler. 

The tides have turned on the Northern Beaches with the club jettisoning Hasler for Anthony Seibold and gutting the rest of the coaching staff, while they sent Turbo across to Philadelphia to seek answers to a problem they have, up until this point, been unable to solve.  

Having been propelled into a preliminary final off the back of Trbojevic’s mesmerising Dally M Medal-winning exploits in 2021, Manly sank without a trace last season as he was confined to the sidelines.

But can a fresh start for everyone involved at the club yield better results or will history repeat itself? 

The Sporting News previews the Sea Eagles’ season below – including their best 17, the key to their success and predicted finish for 2023.


BEST 17 

Position Player
1. Tom Trbojevic
2. Reuben Garrick
3. Tolu Koula
4. Brad Parker
5. Jason Saab
6.  Josh Schuster
7. Daly Cherry-Evans
8. Josh Aloiai
9. Lachlan Croker
10. Sean Keppie
11. Haumole Olakau’atu
12. Kelma Tuilagi
13. Jake Trbojevic
14. Karl Lawton
15. Taniela Paseka
16. Toafofoa Sipley
17. Ben Trbojevic



Kelma Tuilagi (Wests Tigers), Ben Condon (Cowboys), Cooper Johns (Storm), Nathaniel Roache (Eels)


Kieran Foran (Titans), Dylan Walker (Warriors), Martin Taupau (Brisbane), Andrew Davey (Bulldogs)


In Daly Cherry-Evans, Manly have one of the most experienced players in the game who can steer his side around the pitch and provide plenty of spark. But his partner in crime, Kieran Foran, has departed once again leaving DCE to form a new pairing with Josh Schuster. 

If the Samoan international adjusts to the five-eighth role and Turbo remains fit alongside the Queensland captain and the ever-reliable Lachlan Croker, then Manly have the makings of a quality spine that can post points. 

Meanwhile, Jake Trbojevic will act as the trustworthy lighthouse in the middle, anchoring the side’s attack and surveying for anything that moves in defence. 

The Sea Eagles boast two of the best finishers in the game in Jason Saab and Reuben Garrick, along with young gun Christian Tuipulotu who will likely start the season due to Saab’s long-term injury. 

They also have plenty of strike in Haumole Olakau’atu, who scored 10 tries in an inconsistent side last year.

The powerful backrower stood out for his ability to manufacture something out of nothing, but he will have to continue to do so with Manly’s pack looking light in terms of potential impact. 

Their bench has also been weakened with the exits of Dylan Walker, Martin Taupau and Andrew Davey.

Kelma Tuilagi and Ben Condon have been brought in to try and offset this, but the experience lost through the middle could be a major issue. 

Strengths: Spine/Wingers

Weaknesses: Forwards 

Rating: 5/10


It goes without saying, but Manly’s hopes and dreams have been placed squarely into the ‘Tom Trbojevic staying fit’ basket.

Across his past four seasons, he has been restricted to just 44 appearances with the club continuously struggling in his absence. 

Since 2019, Manly have won 68 percent of games that their talismanic fullback has played in, although that win percentage drops to 34 percent when he is on the sidelines. 

There may be no other player in the NRL who has such a dramatic effect on his side’s chances of winning than Turbo. 

MORE: Tom Trbojevic ready to ‘own the ground’ for Manly as he returns from reconditioning trip


After joining the club’s academy system as a 14-year-old, Viliami Fifita has gone from strength to strength at Manly and looks poised to make his NRL debut this season.

Standing at 194cm and weighing in at over 110kg, the front-rower is banging on the door for the Sea Eagles and is locked into the club’s top 30 roster for the next two years.

Fifita is a damaging ball runner with speed and agility to match, making him a perfect fit for the prop position in the modern-day game. 

With the likes of Taupau and Davey moving on, there is no doubt that Fifita has a chance of breaking into the 17.   


Rounds 1 – 7: Bulldogs [H], Bye, Eels [H], Bunnies [A], Knights [H], Panthers [A], Storm [H]

Talk about a baptism of fire. Seibold has been handed a tough initiation as he attempts to rectify a club which slipped into disarray last season. 

They begin the year hosting the Bulldogs with no real grasp on how that newly assembled side will play. 

After their bye in the second round, they then embark on a horror run of fixtures which could set the tone for the campaign ahead. 

Parramatta, South Sydney, Penrith and Melbourne all come in a glut with Newcastle also thrown in for good measure. 

The former Broncos mentor may already be feeling the pressure come round eight if the Sea Eagles have got off to a shaky start under his watch. 


If Manly manage to keep Turbo fit for the season, they are guaranteed to gatecrash the finals.

However, as has been proven in the past, that is a big ‘if’ and their results without him on the pitch, as well as their depth across the park, are a major cause for concern. 

Couple that with the arrival of a new coach and a divided playing group at the back-end of 2022, this could be another tough year for the Sea Eagles. 


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