Backline Squad Depth

Reserve Grader
Have we ever had this level of backline depth before?

Reading the Tui and Parket threads had me thinking long and hard about this question.

Despite losing our #1 for the season, we are almost at a point where Des has too many NRL quality outside backs to choose from.

In an ideal world, right now we would have Turbo, Garrick, Tui, Koula, Saab, Parker and Harper fighting for 5 full-time positions. This is ignoring the fact that we also have pretty handy backups in Walker, Burbo and Lawton if things got really dire.

For season 2023, I believe all of the above players, excluding Walker are contracted up (Correct me if I am wrong, I got lazy in researching).

This is a great problem to have as it could allow greater tactical flexibility while allowing some room to breathe with injuries, rep times, form dips etc.

Unfortunately, it also means that we are likely having 2 players not seeing much game time as I can't recall a time where Des has used squad rotation tactically. This is something you see in premier league football over the course of a 38+ game season, but not something I have ever noticed in League.

It also means that we are holding back the professional development of 2 players that could easily get a gig elsewhere while also taking up a chunk of the salary cap at the same time.

So my big 2 questions are...

1) Has Manly ever faced such a wonderful problem (which season and who were the players)?

2) If we had to let a couple of our current players go to balance our cap, who would you wave goodbye to and why?

Given that I am asking the question, I will skip on number 1 and jump straight into 2.

I would prefer we say goodbye to Parker and Harper as I believe that while they have both excelled at different times, we have perhaps seen the ceiling of both of these players.

If we hadn't been given a taste of Tui and Koula this year, I imagine that I wouldn't be typing this, but I think that we have something really special in these two and we are still years off from seeing their ceiling.

Share your thoughts!
Sea Eagle Lach
Premium Member
Interesting topic.
The ideal situation is to have good quality established in the team, plus top young talent coming through to a) fill in when there's injuries and b) eventually surpass the incumbents, at a slightly cheaper price (initially). This is pretty much what we have, with Koula and Tui the young guns.

Get's tricky because all are still improving, even Garrick and Parker at age 25.

Parker is trickiest one because there is added value in a local junior. Widely criticised as mediocre in his early years but Des hasn't hesitated to pick him and he's developed into a good player who could go on to be a top class defensive centre. How he recovers from his injury could tell the tale in the short term.

Harper looks most vulnerable at first glance but it's possible Garrick's rising value might see him as the one we let go, as we did with Suli. Not sure if we have any gun goalkickers coming through though so that is also a factor.

But I agree that I can't recall having so many backs legitimately fighting for top grade spots. Situation should be clearer by season's end!
Sea Eagle Lach
Premium Member
I can't recall a time where Des has used squad rotation tactically.
I think he does with forwards but I guess he values continuity very highly for the backline because teamwork is so critical for the backs, especially in defence?
Reserve Grader
Without a doubt , in order of who we had to lose if that was the case (I don't think it will be as most clubs have close to 10 back 5 players in their top 30. Having only 2 back ups + burbo and Lawton means this is probably the bare minimum that a club should stock). Having said that I would look to promote guys like Vaega and possibly Meyers (or pick up a good value gun from elsewhere) in place of:
1. Harper
2. Saab

I feel they are our 2 weakest. Parker has much more upside and could possibly play back row one day (or at least provide cover there in an emergency situation). Whilst Saab is fast and still young, I would be devastated to see Garrick go for him - that would not make sense in any universe, even considering contract values. For mine, Turbo, Garrick, Koula, Tui are the first 4 that MUST be retained. After that, keep Burbo, Parker to fight it out for the left centre position. We also mustn't forget Weekes may figure into this somewhere as he probably won't get much time in the halves, or else he is one I could see us losing for better opportunities elsewhere unfortunately
Premium Member
Certainly have got quite a bit of back line depth at the present time , will be a bit different with Walker and Foz leaving . Not too sure for next season if Saab and Garrick are considered is choice wingers , Tippt toes all things normal would have to be in the side , probably centre with koula and whether Parker and Harper in that scenario would be prepared to wish to stay around . Recall Harper before he established himself earlier last year was getting a bit restless not being in the i st grade side . Parker being a local junior maybe more inclined to stay with the ability to transition to an edge role . dito Burbo Wonder how things would have transpired if young Feledy had stayed around as a good centre prospect . Anyway some serious competition for back line positions now can only be a healthy situation and for future seasons just have to wait and see i guess .
Premium Member
We need depth and both Parker and Harper are contracted until season end 2023 so 2023 will be the time to think about whether we resign either player or not. I believe that both are on modest contracts. We are loosing Davey (small contract), Boyle (Small contract), Foran (small contract),Tafua (small contract) and Tapau (large contract) at seasons end. Sadly it looks like we have spent all of our cap upgrading and extending current squad members and it looks like we aren't in the market for any big signings so we need to develop our juniors. Des needs to start blooding Weekes soon.
Premium Member
The only issue we have is that all these backs have no senior mentors to teach them the trade. They are all still in development or only just above NRL level. We need a superstar centre.
Interesting thread title.
Reading on here through various stages you'd be forgiven for thinking that four of those players aren't up to it.....depends what week it is.
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Reactions: Rocky
We also have young Latu Fainu coming through in 2-3 years as a 5/8 as well. Big forwards, brother Samuela and Alec T too. Humphries and the Flegg half we ecruited from Penrith Taylor??
Journey Man
I think 87 team had Marty gurr in reserve grade, Chris close not selected for the grand final (injured?), with shearer, Davis, O’Connor, Williams, Ronson running out for the grand final.

Greg Austin was also in reserve grade, and a gun. He played most of his career in England and was very successful there.
Sea Eagle Lach
Premium Member
1978 grand final backs - Eadie, Mooney, Gartner, Knight, Booth, Thompson, Steve Martin.
Johnny Gibbs missed it through injury and Ray Branighan was a reserve.
Both halfbacks Gibbs and Martin went on the Kangaroo tour along with 5/8 Thompson, that is pretty impressive depth!
Reserve Grader
Prefer that we work to the following

1. Turbo
2. Saab
3. Tuipoluto
4. Koula
5. Garrick

I read that Saab is not rated by some on here and I understand why that is the case. However I think he has played a lot better the last 6 weeks. He still has a way to go, but his kick returns and runs out of the corner have gotten better in my view. Still a work in progress but I'm happy to persevere with him for now given his upside.

That would put Parker and Harper on the outer but we need one of these guys for depth. As others have pointed out Parker surely has to be favoured given he is a local junior and could possibly be used off the bench as a reserve forward. That description also sounds like Burbo so it begs the question whether we need both of them if they aren't automatic starters.
Premium Member
We need depth. We are a funny lot here at the beginning of the season we thought we had too many props and then no too far into the season due to injury we were thin in the forwards for depth. All of the top 30 need to have sufficient talent to get the job done in the squad when called upon. Balancing the squad is difficult and sadly luck does play some part with injuries and other events beyond the control of the club.
First Grader
Don't wanna sound rude but I find it reasonable NRL quality depth, there are some options no doubt, but in reality, only 3 would guarantee a start at most clubs - Turbo, Garrick and I'd now add Koula.
Harp has improved again and Parker is solid, whilst Saab is a flash, but not yet the complete winger, but would not be certain starters at all clubs and watching some of the NSW cup games in 2022, there are other sides I would rate having similar quality outside backs awaiting opportunity.
I still think Vaega from our own Blacktown side has the potential to be added to that list also and there's a small, speedy fullback Jake Toby who is a gifted attacking player and Weekes is imo a future NRL player who can double up at fullback or 5/8.
The only issue we have is that all these backs have no senior mentors to teach them the trade. They are all still in development or only just above NRL level. We need a superstar centre.
Why do we need a 'superstar' center? I don't think we do at all. Koula, Harper, Parker, Tui, Burbo.....plenty there.
Team P W L PD Pts
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24 18 6 209 38
24 17 7 272 36
24 16 8 119 34
24 15 9 247 32
24 15 9 201 32
24 14 10 130 30
24 14 10 63 30
24 13 11 -36 28
24 12 12 -100 26
24 9 15 -105 20
24 7 17 -192 16
24 6 18 -205 14
24 6 18 -290 14
24 6 18 -292 14
24 4 20 -327 10
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