Best 17s of the 16-team era: Manly Sea Eagles

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Best 17s of the 16-team era: Manly Sea Eagles​

Two premierships, another two grand finals and a picture of consistency.​


SCOTT PRYDE
EDITOR | FEBRUARY 1, 2023 - 10:11AM

The Manly Sea Eagles have been one of the more successful outfits over the last 16 years, playing in four grand finals and winning two premierships.

While most of those came early in the period - with the last in 2013 when they fell to the Roosters despite the efforts of Daly Cherry-Evans who won the Clive Churchill Medal - they have still been, for the most part, consistent in recent years.
Des Hasler has had two stints at the club, and that has now come to an end, with Manly's current iteration possibly their weakest side at any point since the NRL made the jump to 16 teams in 2007 with the addition of the Gold Coast Titans.

Their team who made four grand finals between 2007 and 2013 though produced some of the biggest stars the game has seen, and it means spots for current players are few and far between - even for one of the best in the game as it stands right now.

A reminder that the only qualification to be considered for selection in a best 17 at a club is that the player must have played more career games for that club where they have played for multiple between the 2007 and 2022 period.
Here is their best 17 since 2007.

Fullback: Brett Stewart
There are really only two fullbacks who come into consideration here - Brett Stewart and Tom Trbojevic. That's not because others haven't stood up, but it's literally because the Sea Eagles haven't had anyone else who has played fullback for any significant length of time.
Tom Trbojevic is, as it stands, one of the best players in the NRL. His Dally M Medal winning season of 2021, where he only played 15 games, was miraculous.
But his injuries have prevented him from becoming the game's number one player, and as it stands, the legacy that Brett Stewart left at the club is far greater.
He scored a stunning 163 tries in 233 games between 2003 and 2016, but also played in all four of Manly's grand finals in the period and has to be included in this side.
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Wingers: Jorge Taufua and David Williams​

There are plenty more options available on the wing for the Sea Eagles, with three former options, to go with the two current options.
Both Jason Saab and particularly Reuben Garrick come into this conversation. Saab is still struggling with areas of his game, including when Trbojevic isn't on the field, but Garrick, who filled in so admirably at fullback last year, has played 91 games, scoring 55 tries. It's an impressive strike rate to say the least.
That said, it's impossible to actually pick him in this side.
Jorge Taufua is the first selected winger. While he faded at the back end of his time on the Northern Beaches, his prime saw him score 88 tries in 164 appearances.
Michael Robertson and David Williams are the other two options. Williams played 103 games, scoring 66 tries, and while Robertson had more games, on raw talent alone, it's difficult to overlook the Wolfman.

Centres: Jamie Lyon and Steve Matai​

Like the wing options, there is a current option running around who will be overlooked here. Brad Parker has been solid for the Sea Eagles, but he can't hold a candle to two of the best players in club history.
Both Steve Matai and Jamie Lyon played more than 200 games for the club during their time, with Lyon scoring 86 tries in 224 games, and Matai 93 in 232 during his one-club career.
Both were part of the grand final run on either side of the decade, and Lyon was club captain for quite a length of time. Both defensively sound and attackingly excellent, they are impossible to overlook in the three-quarter line.
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Halves: Kieran Foran and Daly Cherry-Evans​

There are only three halves really in line for selection here, being Kieran Foran, Daly Cherry-Evans and Matt Orford.
Given Foran is the only one of the trio who is a five-eighth, he wins the number six jersey by default. Despite his recent injury problems, his 2022 season was excellent, and he was involved in the last two grand finals in the stretch.
Daly Cherry-Evans wins the race for the number seven jumper, but not by much.
Orford was superb for the Sea Eagles in leading the side to the first two grand finals, before Cherry-Evans was the star in 2011 and 2013. The difference, of course, is that Cherry-Evans, who is now Queensland captain, has stuck with the club for the next decade and the weight of work significantly outweighs that of Orford.

Middle forwards: Martin Taupau, Brent Kite and Jake Trbojevic​

The Sea Eagles have plenty of options in the middle third. A talented crop of players have been through the Northern Beaches over the last 16 years to keep the club upholding their tough reputation.
Their middle third group as it currently stands deserves a mention, but none come close to matching what has been served up over the last 16 years.
First picked is Brent Kite, who was a starting prop in all four grand finals during his time on the Northern Beaches, playing 221 games for the Sea Eagles, to go with 10 State of Origins and 14 Tests for Australia.
He is joined up front in this side by Martin Taupau, who has been nothing short of inspirational during his 156 games for the club.
The lock forward position comes down to Jake Trbojevic and Glenn Stewart. We will go with Trbojevic ahead of Stewart, but that's because Stewart will be used elsewhere.
That leaves out the likes of Josh Perry, Jason King, Max Bryant, George Rose, Darcy Lussick, Brenton Lawrence and Josh Starling, who all had substantial time at Manly.
NRL Rd 10 - Sea Eagles v Eels

Hooker: Matt Ballin​

The Sea Eagles have had some strong hookers over the run, including current day dummy half Lachlan Croker, who began his career as a half who could fill in at hooker.
Heath L'Estrange and Adam Cuthbertsonhave also spent time at the club, but it's impossible to pick anyone else other than Matt Ballin.
One of the competition's best defenders during his career, Ballin played 217 games for the Sea Eagles from his 2007 debut and was a consistent force during the grand final stretch.

Edge forwards: Anthony Watmough and Glenn Stewart​

Considered: Schuster, Tom Symonds, Justin Horo, Buhrer, Joe Galuvao, Tony Williams, Anthony Watmough, Steve Menzies, Haumole Olakau'atu
Ineligible: Thompson, Lane, Glenn Hall,
Josh Schuster and Haumole Olakau'atucome close from the current group, but they are no match for the selections here, which also leave out players like Tony Williams, Steve Menzies, Joe Galuvao and Jamie Buhrer, who played for New South Wales at one point.
Instead, we have to select Anthony Watmough and Glenn Stewart.
Watmough played the fourth-most games in Sea Eagles' history, debuting in 2003 and leaving the club at the end of 2014. The end of his career wasn't as good as the start, but he was still an Origin player as late as 2014, and a Test player for Australia in 2013.
His partner Glenn Stewart might have been overshadowed by brother Brett and most famous for the 'battle of Brookvale' against Adam Blair and the Storm, but what he brought to the club during his 185 games sees him as an easy selection in this side.
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Interchange: Jamie Buhrer, Steve Menzies, Josh Perry and Jason King​

With so many talented forwards missing out on the side, the competition for bench spots runs hot.
We will pick a utility though, and while consideration was given to Dylan Walker, we have gone with Jamie Buhrer, who was an excellent second-rower in his prime, but could also play in the number nine. With Glenn Stewart able to play in the middle third, there is less of a need for a player to cover the middle here as Walker is able to do.
Steve Menzies is the next selection, and while he left the club at the end of 2008, he played 280 games for the Sea Eagles, scored 151 tries and was still a superb player through the first two years of this era.
The two middle forwards selected are Josh Perry, who represented Australia at his peak, and Jason King, who played State of Origin.

The Sea Eagles' best 17 of the 16-team era​

1. Brett Stewart
2. Jorge Taufua
3. Jamie Lyon
4. Steve Matai
5. David Williams
6. Kieran Foran
7. Daly Cherry-Evans
8. Martin Taupau
9. Matt Ballin
10. Brent Kite
11. Anthony Watmough
12. Glenn Stewart
13. Jake Trbojevic
14. Jamie Buhrer
15. Steve Menzies
16. Josh Perry
17. Jason King
 
They got it totally wrong…….

Ben Farrar
Akuila Uate
Cheyse Blair
Lewis Brown
Brayden Williame
Chris Bailey
Kane Elgey
Willie Mason
Danny Levi
Luke Burgess
Justin Horo
Feleti Mateo
Nate Myles

David Gower
Dunamis Lui
Tom Symonds
Lloyd Perrett
 
Last edited:
They got it totally wrong…….

Ben Farrar
Akuila Uate
Cheyse Blair
Lewis Brown
Brayden Williame
Chris Bailey
Kane Elgey
Willie Mason
Danny Levi
Luke Burgess
Justin Horo
Feleti Mateo
Nate Myles

David Gower
Dunamis Lui
Tom Symonds
Lloyd Perrett
Nate Myles captain
 
I see ‘Max’ Bryant was under consideration. Oh, and Marty Tapau, ‘who was nothing short of inspirational’ (in his services to male cornrowing). Pity Jason King and co.
 
Did Hoppa play in this era? If so, then he'd be one of my wingers.
Yes, he's a $@## but I'm just rating him for how dynamic he was when he played on the wing in the early seasons. He was a beast.
For those who never saw him play think Jorge-with twice the impact!
 
No matter who you think should make this list, it's pretty clear that we have had a fairly crap team for the better part of a decade.
 

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