What the Sea Eagles think they need to rise from the ashes

Manly Captain Daly Cherry-Evans will be returning for his 11th NRL season with the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles. Picture: Chris Lane.
Manly Captain Daly Cherry-Evans will be returning for his 11th NRL season with the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles. Picture: Chris Lane.

The Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles say they are working hard to get back to their winning ways. For the 2021 season, they have added some great young talent to bolster its forward pack and the speed of its outside backs.

Trial Match

The Sea Eagles will get their first taste of the 2021 season at the end of February, with a pre season match against the West Tigers. This will be the only pre season match for the Sea-Eagles who are set to face the Sydney Roosters on NRL opening night (March 13). The team will have the opportunity to fine tune its skills and incorporate its new and emerging talent. The trail will take place on Sunday, February 28 at Leichhardt Oval from 5pm. Wests Tigers and Sea Eagles Members will get priority access to tickets.

New Signings

The Sea Eagles added some great backline speed when two of the best young speedsters in the NRL were signed in late November. Christian Tuipulotu was signed to a four-year deal, followed up with the signature of Jason Saab for three years. Both players become part of Manly's top 30 squad for the 2021 season. Tuipulotu secured a release from the final year of his contract with the Sydney Roosters, while Saab was granted release from the final two years of his St George-Illawarra Dragons contract.

Jason Saab will join Manly on a three-year deal after being released by the Dragons.

Jason Saab will join Manly on a three-year deal after being released by the Dragons.

Sea Eagles Coach Des Hasler was delighted to secure their services. "Christian is a very talented young player. We are looking forward to further developing his game here at Manly. He is very athletic and will certainly bring added depth and competition for spots within the squad,'' Hasler said. "Jason is a young, promising player. He has all the attributes to be a successful, consistent NRL player."

With speed in the backs sorted, the Sea Eagles looked to forwards and landed one of the best young props in the NRL, signing Josh Aloiai on a three-year-deal. Aloiai brings 90 games of experience to the Manly squad, originally making his debut in 2016 for the West Tigers. The 25-year-old was released from the final year of his Tigers contract and Sea Eagles CEO Stephen Humphreys said he had no doubts that his on field contributions will be immense. "He will also support our existing leadership group in ensuring that our standards and culture are that of a high performance and winning organisation," said Humphreys.

Josh Aloiai (c) raised eyebrows at the ARLC with his move to Manly from Wests Tigers.

Josh Aloiai (c) raised eyebrows at the ARLC with his move to Manly from Wests Tigers.

Manly also granted a release to Jade Anderson last month for personal reasons. The talented full-back/winger with plenty of speed was part of Manly's NRL Development squad for 2021 and played in Manly's 2017 Holden Cup premiership winning team.

NRL rule changes

The NRL announced several rule changes for the 2021 Telstra Premiership season to make the game "faster, more free-flowing, entertaining and unpredictable". The changes include:

  • Introduction of a two-point field goal for kicks taken from more than 40 metres out
  • Six-again to be called for 10-metre infringements
  • Penalties for teams if they leave a scrum before a referee calls "break"
  • A play-the-ball restart if the ball or player with the ball goes over the sideline
  • The Bunker will now review replays after an on-field referee awards a try but a conversion attempt will not be allowed until it gets the green light
  • Injured players will be interchanged if a trainer ask for play to be stopped
  • When a captain's challenge is inconclusive a team will not be docked for an unsuccessful attempt
  • A handover will be ordered when a player does not make a genuine attempt to play the ball correctly with their foot

Committee chairman Peter V'landys said these innovations would lead to "less stoppages, more unpredictability and increased excitement for our fans".

"The message from the fans and our broadcasters has been clear - the game became too predictable and the balance between attack and defence had gone too far in favour of defence," he said.

"Our changes last year were successful in addressing some of those challenges and the changes announced today will take the element of unpredictability and entertainment a step further."

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