THE Sea Eagles off-season shopping spree had them tipped as top four specials before a ball was kicked in 2016.
But disturbing trends in the form lines of Manly’s marquee recruits have the side sitting fourth last, four points outside the top eight as the season reaches its halfway point.
Rome wasn’t whacked together in a day and Bob Fulton’s famed rebuild on the Peninsular won’t come crumbling down at the end of the week. But if Trent Barrett’s side comes away from a freezing Canberra road trip empty-handed on Friday, then things will start to heat up for the rookie coach.
A loss would leave them a likely six points clear of the top eight, needing nine wins from the next 12 games to crack the standard 28-point finals cut off.
Those numbers are concerning enough. Then toss in the following around Manly’s big name summer buys.
* Nate Myles has run for an average of just 38.5 metres in his last two games in the maroon and white and hasn’t made a line break since 2012.
* Dylan Walker’s shift to the halves has seen his tackle breaks (1.8 per game) halved compared to the 2014/15 seasons, when he was averaging 3.6 per game, and his running metres down from an average of 101 metres to 73 so far this year. His try assist and line break assist numbers have stagnated despite a shift into a playmaking role, while averaging an error a game.
* Marty Taupau will have missed four games through suspension when his three-game ban for dumping Matt Gillett ends in round 15. And despite playing an extra 29 minutes a game on average since shifting from the Tigers, his tackle busts are down from 4.14 per game to 2.5 in 2016 as he moves to an edge role.
The likes of Apisai Koroisau, Matt Parcell and Darcy Lussick are all either hitting the same targets they have throughout their NRL careers, or new heights, since linking with Manly.
Koroisau already has as many try assists (3) and line breaks (3) from six games this years as he did at Penrith in 16 last year.
But Manly’s most high profile imports are clearly yet to hit their straps.
It’s an unfamiliar position for the Silvertails, who for the last decade have got bang for their buck and then some when it comes to their roster.
It’s why 2015 was the first time they missed the finals in 11 attempts.
Welcome to The Pressure Gauge.