Home Ground: Brookvale Oval (Sydney)
Coach: Trent Barrett
2015 finish: 9th
2015 top pointscorer: Jamie Lyon, 110
2015 top tryscorer: Brett Stewart, 16
2015 Player of the Year: Jake Trbojevic
Gains: Lewis Brown (Panthers), Michael Chee Kam (Tigers), Clint Gutherson (Sea Eagles), Issac John (Panthers), Api Koroisau (Panthers), Darcy Lussick (Eels), Tim Moltzen (Tigers), Nate Myles (Titans), Matt Parcell (Broncos), Jesse Sene-Lefao (Sharks), Martin Taupau (Tigers), Dylan Walker (Rabbitohs) John Walker (rugby union)
Losses: Matt Ballin (Tigers), Cheyse Blair (Storm), Keiran Foran (Eels), James Hassan (Eels), Justin Horo (Catalans Dragons), Dunamis Lui (Dragons), Willie Mason (Catalans Dragons), Ligi Sao (Warriors), David Williams (retired)
The Sea Eagles hope to quickly put the tumultuous 2015 season behind them as they strive to return to their glory days.
There was the furore over the announcement by Australia’s Four Nations representative Daly Cherry-Evans that he was off to the Gold Coast, only to change his mind at the last moment.
In the meantime, his partner in the halves, Kiwi Test star Keiran Folau announced he was joining Parramatta – and there was speculation (unfounded) that he would do a back-flip, too.
Fourteen players were told to look elsewhere for 2016. And then the worst-kept secret of all was finally revealed, Manly’s favourite son, Geoff Toovey, who had been with the Sea Eagles as a player and coach for almost three decades, was being sacked.
It was against this backdrop that new coach, Panthers’ assistant Trent Barrett, arrived. He quickly won over the senior members of the squad, including captain and former Man of Steel Jamie Lyon. It was Barrett’s calm manner and his encyclopaedic knowledge of the finer points of the game that won them over.
He is boosted by the way the Sea Eagles ended 2015. After looking favourites for the wooden spoon after winning just three of their first 12 outings, they stormed home to narrowly miss the play-offs.
The 2016 squad has a solid look about it. The Brookvale fans have already taken to the Trbojevic brothers, Jake and Tom. The two local juniors made a real impact last season. The 22-year-old prop Jake was a former Junior Kangaroo and Australian Schoolboy representative. He had just one senior match under his belt at the start of the year but finished as Manly’s Player of the Year and played for the Prime Minister’s XIII against the PNG Kumuls. He averaged 115 metres in hit-ups and 26 tackles per match.
Tom, now 19 years of age, scored a try with his first touch of the ball in his debut in May and went on to notch eight tries in nine appearances. He started this year in great form, chosen in the Team of the Tournament at the Auckland Nines. Barrett brought Kiwi Test men Lewis Brown and Isaac John as well as Fiji World Cup hooker Apisai Koroisau with him from Penrith.
Another current Kiwis star Martin Taupau has moved across the Sydney Harbour from Wests Tigers while Aussie internationals Nate Myles (Gold Coast) and Dylan Walker (Souths) are also recruits.
Brett Stewart is poised to continue his record-breaking career, currently having scored 162 tries in 222 appearances.