NRL 2024: Sea Eagles yet to decide on two starting spots

Space-Separated Links URL URL URL URL Space-Separated Links URL URL URL URL Space-Separated Links url url url url url url url url url url url url url url url url url url url url url url url url

As buzzwords go “culture” is one of the many that tends to get thrown out more than it needs to in the NRL.

But one small detail at Manly’s trial game on Gosford suggests the playing group is tighter than ever as they look to bounce back from last year’s disappointment of missing the finals.

Sunday’s unofficial clash against Souths wasn’t part of the pre-season challenge which was reflected in the squads with both teams resting most of their stars.

But that didn’t stop Tom and Jake Trbojevic, skipper Daly Cherry-Evans and more than a dozen other first-graders from cheering on their teammates while also taking photos with the fans who made the trip north.

It’s a small thing but it shows how tight the group is under coach Anthony Seibold.

“We didn’t have the year that we wanted to in terms of the finish on the ladder, but there was a lot of work done on the way we’re connecting off the field,” Cherry-Evans said.

“It’s always a work in progress with that stuff, but you can tell there a lot of people who genuinely care about each other.

“What you saw on Sunday was a reflection of the happiness and enjoyment within the group at the moment.”

While Cherry-Evans missed the game and is unlikely to face the Roosters on Saturday, he was impressed by halves partner Luke Brooks who set up three first-half tries in the 68-6 rout.

“He’s a classy player, he’s an experienced player,” he said.

“Despite what the last few years have looked like for him, he’s shown he’s a genuine first-grader.

“You don’t play 200 NRL games with it being a fluke.”

Brooks was just happy to play after a lengthy pre-season at his new club, with the veteran half desperate to end his finals drought with a team boasting some of the best attacking weapons in the world.

“The pre-season feels very long so you’re excited to get out there and play footy,” he said.

“It was the first time for me pulling on the Manly jersey so it was exciting.

“We’ve got a lot of experience in our spine and great quality players, so that allows me to play my game.

“I’m looking forward to playing alongside those guys in an actual game.”

Brooks laid on two tries for Ben Trbojevic who shone in the back row and is battling it out with Josh Schuster for a starting spot.

Trbojevic scored three tries in the first half just days after he signed a contract extension, with the young gun ready to make a name for himself after spending years being referred to as Tom and Jake’s younger brother.

“I think (he’s feeling more comfortable in his role) and that takes time for people to develop that,” Tom said.

“I think he’s starting to realise how he can help this footy team, and we’ve seen that in the way that he’s training because he’s one of the best trainers who works really hard at his game.”

The back row isn’t the only place up for grabs with Ray Vaega putting his hand up for the left wing spot after he bagged a double on Sunday.

New recruits Jaxson Paulo and Tommy Talau are also in the mix.

“I thought he was really good,” Seibold said.

“It’s one spot where there’s a real competition for spots with Jaxson, Ray and also Tommy Talau.

“Jason Saab has obviously got the right wing position nailed with Tolu (Koula) and Reuben (Garrick) in the centres, so there’s one position which those three guys are fighting for.

“We want genuine competition for spots, and that position is up for grabs, as is the left-edge back row.”

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *