Many people will have never heard the name Brayden Wiliame. To provide some background he is a young NRL player of Fijian descent currently playing with the Manly Sea Eagles.
He began his first grade career with the Parramatta Eels in 2013, then moved to Newcastle in 2014 and finally arrived at Manly in 2015. Prior to playing first grade, Wiliame was with the Melbourne Storm under-20s team.
Player movement in the NRL is not uncommon, so it isn’t necessarily surprising that a 23-year-old has had to move clubs so often. Maybe he has just been unlucky. Maybe he will make Manly his home for years to come. Or just maybe there is something else.
Wiliame has showed on numerous occasions that he has the skills to make it in the top grade. In 2010 he represented the NSW under-18s team and also performed strongly in the 2016 Auckland Nines tournament. He is probably never going to be a superstar, but he has the attributes to make it as an outside back in the NRL.
You may be wondering what the issue is. So what if he has moved clubs a few times?
Some Manly fans starting discussing the curse in 2015 when the Sea Eagles had one of their worst seasons in over a decade. Wiliame played five games for the first grade side – and lost them all. Ok, so that’s not such a big deal is it? You perhaps might have expected to jag at least a win considering the talent in the team, but these things happen.
Then you look further back when he cracked first grade with Parramatta in 2013. To be fair, the Eels were diabolical but Wiliame played six games – and lost them all. Again, you would think with a bit of luck they could pull off a win.
2016 is meant to be a new era for the Sea Eagles with a new coach and numerous star signings. Star fullback Brett Stewart was ruled out for Round 1 and coach Trent Barrett opted to bring in Wiliame onto the wing.
Fans were nervous, but optimistic. They were playing at Fortress Brookvale in front of a big crowd. Surely the curse would be broken.
This would finally put the ludicrous curse theory to bed. What could go wrong? Unfortunately for Wiliame and Manly, the result was another loss.
Wiliame has now played 12 first grade games – and lost them all. Somewhere along the way he has upset the football gods; and they refuse to let it go. Teams are generally picked on form or experience, but at what point does Manly coach Barrett take a closer look at the curse and leave him out of the team altogether?
On Monday night the Sea Eagles take on the Wests Tigers. With Brett Stewart out again, Wiliame gets another opportunity. Manly fans are worried.
In fact, some are already resigned to a second successive loss. Can Wiliame break the curse,
or will it continue to haunt him for the rest of his NRL career?