Manly Sea Eagles 2024 season preview

Manly Sea Eagles 2024 season preview

2023 recap

Manly missed out on finals for a second straight season in 2023, after a year of inconsistency. Things started brightly enough under new coach, Anthony Seibold, as they picked up four wins and a draw in their opening seven games to sit in 4th. After that, it was a year of mostly disappointments though, which was summed up by the season-ending injury to star fullback Tom Trbojevic in Origin II. Still, they ended the year with back-to-back wins over the Bulldogs and the Tigers to finish just three points outside the top eight.

2023 position: 12th

Key signings

Luke Brooks (Wests Tigers), Nathan Brown (Parramatta Eels), Bailey Hodgson (Newcastle Knights), Aitasi James (Wests Tigers), Jaxson Paulo (Sydney Roosters), Tommy Talau (Wests Tigers), Corey Waddell (Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs)

Key departures

Latu Fainu (Wests Tigers), Samuela Fainu (Wests Tigers), Morgan Harper (Parramatta Eels), Sean Keppie (South Sydney Rabbitohs), Kelma Tuilagi (Parramatta Eels), Christian Tuipulotu (St George Illawarra Dragons), Kaeo Weekes (Canberra Raiders)

Players to watch

2024 is a big year for Josh Schuster. It’s fair to say his move to five-eighth didn’t really work out, but he’ll be back in the second row this year and that should ease some of the pressure that was on him in the halves. It’s hard to believe he’s still only 22, but he should have his best years ahead of him and this year could see a bounce back in form.

Funnily enough, it’s the arrival of Luke Brooks that has freed Schuster up to move back into the forwards. The much-maligned Brooks probably faced more criticism than any other player during his time at the Tigers, having played more than 200 games for them and never reaching a finals series. Still, 2024 is the chance for a fresh start, and with DCE alongside him, there should be a little less pressure on his shoulders, and it could be the campaign where he finally ends his top eight drought.

Young gun

Bailey Hodgson never made it onto an NRL field during an injury-hit three years at the Knights, but the Sea Eagles have given him another crack Down Under in 2024. Still only 21, the nephew of former Raiders and Eels hooker, Josh Hodgson, has plenty of time on his side, but this feels like a big year for the fullback. He won’t get in ahead of Tom Trbojevic, but if Turbo breaks down injured again, then Hodgson will be pushing for the number one jersey.

Our prediction – 8th

I have a sneaky suspicion Manly will make it back into the finals this year. They’ve added some good depth to the squad in the shape of Tommy Talau and Jaxson Paulo, while the arrival of Luke Brooks will free up Josh Schuster to move back into the pack. Throw in the speedster, Jason Saab, and the wily old heads of Jake Trbojevic and Daley Cherry-Evans, and this Sea Eagles side looks a good bet for a much-improved 2024. Much will depend on Tommy Turbo’s ability to stay fit as well though.

Darren Notley

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