Hi Canteen - all I hope for is improvement.
Brett Stewart can only get better with experience, and I hope he talks a lot more (in the mould of Matt Ridge). I hope he sparks up a Slater/Orford combination that Melbourne enjoyed. I hope he matains his awesome try scoring record, but adds to it at away games.
Paul Stephenson has found his niche on the wing. I hear his knees are better, and he can actually run at speed this year. I hope he clicks with Bell, and uses his speed and size to build an intimidation factor like Hoppa had in his prime. I personally believe he has rhe ability. I think it will come down to aggression, and maybe some variety in attack.
Steven Bell can't possibly get any better, as I rate him one of the best centres in the world. If he improves, I hope he gets a rep shot for QLD. I hope he gels in Manly. Man;ys attack is a hell of a lot flatter than Melbournes was, so it will be a new experience for hom. One I think he will relish.
Ashley Alberts is a very aggressive player. His attack is great. I'd like to see with no illnesses and a full off season of training he lives up to Crushers expectations. He can only get better. With the tussle for spot with Matai, I think he will be consistent. I hope his defence improves.
Chris Hick can also only improve. Reason - we have seen him in his prime in 2004. I'd like to see that form bought into 2006. I'd like to sii him have more urgency in getting the ball from kicks.
Michael Witt was a solid player in my opinion. I hope he gets a shot at 5/8, and Monaghan a shot at Hooker. For the record, we won 80% of the games where Witt was 5/8. We failed dismaly when he wasn't, and a lot of those games were close enough to win if we had a goal kicker in the team. Next to Matt Orford, he should shine. He is very young, and very talented.
Matt Orford in my opinion is up there with Andrew Johns in half back status. He is being payed the dollars to have the same effect on us Johns does for Newcastle. When Johns is there - they win. 2nd half of their season point in case. He will steer our team around like a well oiled machine. Consider he will have Bell, Stewart, Hicks, Kennedy, Menzies, Watmough, Kite, Dunley etc all in the team, we have an extremely healthy nucleus. Better than Melbournes was and they finished 6th. Go figure.
Brent Kite actually had a very good year. y his own reckonning his form was down, so if he can play better than what he did, I expect to see him in a sky blue jersey this year. I think that is motivation enough for the big guy. I WOULD like to see a bit more aggression (no more MR nice guy) to add intimidation into our team. Something we lack a bit with The Hoppa goooorn.
Michael Monaghan is a very good ball runner. He has bulked up apparently in the off season, and had a great long kicking game this year. Potentially, he could be a very, very good Hooker. Not being the chief play maker is good for Monaghan (example when he partnered Walker in 04). If he's not captain, he can focus on his game like Beaver did when he let the captaincy go. Noting Ballin, Williamson & Dunley are all pushing for his spot, I would consider he will have a terrific year in this position.
Mark Bryant had a fantastic year in 05 in my opinion. He had some what looked like teething nerve problems, but as the year drew on, he became more, and more aggressive. This is where he should improve, and if so, will become a great prop. His dummy 1/2 defence is very good, and that is something Manly have lacked for a long time. I hope he cements a 1st grade spot, but with the likes of Arnold, Cleal, Curtis, Rose, Moorwood, King, Leuleuai, Kite, Styles, Feinefukuia all vying for 4 spots - it will be tough. I actually think we will be good up front this year, although a lot of it will come down to Roaches training techniques.
Anthony Watmough. He came along in leaps and bounds this year. He is young, and getting better all the time. I hope he pushes for a sky blue jerseythis year. He has the aggression, talent, passion to become a Manly legend, and the thought of him with a year of Orford feeding him ball, and Kennedy instilling some footy knowledge on top of what he already has is salivating.
I hope Steve Menzies maintains his 2005 form. I would like to see him and the team play well, so we can get a 2007 out of the guy. I hope he matains his fitness and stays injury free, to get to his 300th footy gamne in Manly's 60th year !!! I can't wait to see him off Orford as well. I also think he combines with Witt amazingly as a wide running second rower, then usually onto Hicks to provide good tries.
I hope Ben Kennedy stays injury free. I hope he is made captain. I hope he plays another 1-2 seasons after 2006, making him a MANLY legend as upposed to an X-Newcastle player. Not much I can really say except more of the same please. Actually one thing, and this is a tad selfish, I hope he gives up rep footy soon to focus on Manly.
Shayne Dunley had an outstanding 2005. He was explosive out of dummy half, but if Monaghan is Hooker, I question Dunley's role in the team? I DO want Dunley in the team though. My thought are potentially Dunley / Williamson Hooker with Monaghan 5/8. This would weaken our bench though, and we would be promoting 2-3 2005 reserve grade players in this instance. Regardless - his dummy 1/2 running HAS to be in the team.
Luke Williamson. I would like to see Luke going from a worker to a contender. I would like to see a little heart / aggression. With Cleal / Cuthbertson pushing for his spot, I hope he motivates himself to step up a cog from 2005. He's a solid player, but in 2006, we need MORE than solid players. Heckenberg, Randall, Harris were solid players, and look where they have ended up.
Kylie Leuleuai was an outstanding player in my books in 2005. Great metre muncher, great defender at times. I would like to see his tackling technique change a little, so he can spend more time on the park. I love it when he is aggressive. He's made it to the reserves NZ side (which is currently the best in the world), and I'm sure that will be motivation needed to step up that one extra cog. If he repeats a 2005 performance, I will be happy. He's a top player.
Jason King I hope gets some conditioning / fitness training in the off season. Smaller torso, and stronger legs will make him a much fitter player that could spend more time on the park. He mentioned he had off field problems in 05, and I hope this is rectified. He has a level of aggression that is awesome, and at times, he looked very, very good. Consistency is what we ask for. Crusher has let Heckenberg / Harris go, so MUST see something within King. I personally hope and think he will have a great year, and will shock us. It's a make or break year. We all know how many props are now fighting for the 1st grader spots, so it's a matter of drop off, see you later (as long as Des can make the decision).He can only improve. Here's one for you guys - I think he will rate at end 06 as one of the better props in the competition.
There's my hopes Canteen.