IN the space of 12 weeks, Sea Eagles recruit Dean Whare has gone from Toyota Cup anonymity to becoming the second-fastest man at his new club.
Sea Eagles recruit Dean Whare will get his first chance for the club in Friday's NRL trial. Picture: VIRGINIA YOUNG
Whare will make his debut for Manly in the Sea Eagles’ opening NRL trial against the Sharks at Toyota Stadium on Friday night.
The speedy 20-year-old gets his chance in the run-on team with established centres Ben Farrar (torn pectoral) and Steve Matai (shoulder) both ruled out.
Representative duo Anthony Watmough and George Rose are also unavailable ahead of Saturday night’s All Stars match on the Gold Coast.
Manly will otherwise field a near-full strength squad of 28, with coach Des Hasler likely to give his youngsters a crack in the opening half.
Whare will be among that lot, having joined the Sea Eagles from St George-Illawarra in November.
And it hasn’t taken the youngster long to impress the right people at the Sea Eagles.
“On the speed testing we’ve seen, he’s second only to ‘Snake’ (Brett Stewart),” Sea Eagles recruitment boss Noel Cleal said on Thursday.
“He’s certainly got a good turn of speed and good footwork. If we get a couple of injuries early on, and certainly the way he’s been training, he could get an opportunity (in the NRL). If we do get injuries, he’s ready now.”
A Dragons’ junior, the Rotorua-born back left the red and whites when an opportunity to train with Manly’s full-time squad was offered.
“It was a big decision to leave,” Whare explained on Thursday after training at Narrabeen.
“I was at the Dragons ever since I was a junior in the Harold Matts (under-15s), but I just thought I needed a new challenge.
“It was really hard to leave because Wayne (Dragons coach Wayne Bennett) is a real good coach.
“But I was training part-time last year and I was given a chance here with the full-time squad.”
A chance he is obviously relishing and making the most of, extracting valuable advice from his new colleagues.
“Steve Matai has given me heaps of advice about positioning myself in defence,” Whare said.
“Where to stand, and the options to take in both defence and attack.”
And what of the prospect of slipping past Stewart at training one day?
“He’s pretty fast,” Whare said of the Manly fullback.
“It would be pretty hard to catch him.”
Ex-Sea Eagles forward Adam Cuthbertson will make his debut for Cronulla in Friday night’s trial. Kick off is 7.30pm.