Positives for the season ahead:-

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Journey Man
With the season proper coming at us like a freight train, I thought I might take some times to highlight some positives for the season ahead, with views to where I think we will be headed come September.

To start with I want to talk about depth. There has been much debate about who should be filling the wing, centre, 5/8, Hooker and Prop positions going forward. Being able to debate these positions in the first place is a direct relation to the fact that Manly have substantially added to their depth, and that these depth issues that have been highlighted in the past, should not hit home in 2006 (touch wood).

This is the first time since Brett Kimmorley, we have had a superstar half back leading our team around the park. Like Paul Kent suggested in an article around October last year, much like Johns, Gower, Kimmorley & co. - Orford is now the player on the big enough type of dollars that should be able to drive our team into winning positions solely. UNLIKE when Brett Kimmorley played for our Northern Eagles, we now have a sprinkle of "real" talent throughout the team (even internationals), with a lot of diversity & skill. Imagine Monaghan, Orford, and potentially ANOTHER ball player on the park all at once. The last time we had this luxury from memory, was when we had Des Hasler, Cliff Lyons & Geoff Toovey all on the park - all not the biggest of men. We only conceded 1.5 tries a game in those years !!!

The club has shown solidarity and consistency since the end of the year. Michael Monaghan has been assured of his role at the club (his retention), and will continue to be a leader type regardless of captaincy in my opinion. I believe this solidarity & commitment by the club will show in Monaghan’s form ON the park. There were times last year (against The Sharks at Brookvale for example) when Monaghan had an absolute cracker of a game. I also thought he got the wood over Orford at Brookvale.

I believe we will have fantastic props this year. I mean props that can be damaging. Kite has a year with the lads under his belt, and I suggest he will be getting quality ball from Monaghan and Orford. Orford has an excellent small passing game (actually the best in the world in my opinion), and Kite is a player that likes to run in tight. This combination will be awesome. Bryant and Leuleuai had very consistent performances in 2005. Leuleuai’s tackling style has been addressed, and I believe with his inclusion in the NZ reserve side, we will see a much more aggressive (if that is at all possible) player in 2006. Here is my big call though. Much like Matabele, I believe Jason King will have a stellar year. We have all discussed this topic before, so won’t go on about it, except to say – just watch him.

Off the park we are looking extremely strong. There doesn’t seem to be any political in fighting at the club. We have state of the art training and medical facilities. Management appear to be getting the “business and administration” side of things right.

That brings me to where I think we will be come September. I have previously stated 9th or 10th, but that was when Monaghan wasn’t shown any stability, and a lot of water has gone under the bridge since then. I also have had several bit / snippets of information about the team from the media etc, and all the players appear extremely committed. Therefore, I have re-evaluated my stance on 9th / 10th, and think we will come 3rd or 4th.

I also think our defence will be a lot fiercer, as I think we have let go players that have been shown to be a little lazy around the ruck, and weaknesses on the wings. Steppa has been a real find (especially defensively – yes I said it) on the wing.

Anyway – I can’t bloody wait for the season to start. I will be recording every game on DVD, so if anyone needs / wants them throughout the season, please PM me, and we can organise something.

My biggest hope for 2006 is for us to beat Parramatta. The team is dislike the most. It will happen too. Tim Smith isn’t playing against a Hooker playing ½ back THIS time. He’s playing Matt Orford – who will show the kid how a REAL player manages his team.

Cheers guys -
a bit to cheerful for a Monday Ryan!!!!

We need SOMTHING to get our minds from realising there is a full week of work ahead of us !!! :p

Plus I believe we will have a good year. Think of it this way. Projections.

Des Hasler said in 2004, he wanted nothing, but to finish the year well. DONE.
Des Hasler said in 2005, he wanted us to make the finals only. DONE.
Des Hasler said in 2006, we won't win the comp, but will be top 4....?

I'll take that. And if your top 4, anything can happen...
Good stuff Ryan though I am yet to be convinced about the Prop rotation and its strength. I nearly swallowed my teeth when I read Mata's piece about King being a dominant Prop this year (I hope he is right!!!) Kite carried us last year and the work ethic of Hecks will be missed. Bryant and Cleal may improve but we need better metres and tougher ruck defence in order for Orford to strut his stuff. Not sure how the new recruits will go though it looks as if Rose is a ball player. Hopefully Kylie will make more impact this season.

Having improved service at Hooker will be a big plus and Orford will add much to the variety of the attack and the kicking game. Bell will improve our attack and defence with hopefully Flash Ash making a big impact as well.

The big riddle for me is the five-eighth position and it will be interesting to see what Des and the coaching staff are thinking.

I will be interested to see what youngsters are blooded and whether Cuthbo, Ballin, Glenn Stewart, Cleal, Halden etc are ready to step up.

Can't wait but it is coming at the pace of the North Mail rather than a speeding freight train for me!!!!
So who DO we have to play 5/8?

It would be:-

Jason Wells
Michael Monaghan
Michael Witt
Luke Williamson
Travis Burns
J P Cherry
Steve Menzies
Clint Halden

Look - in my eyes, it should be Witt (sorry Flufster). Imagine if we still had Walker !!!!

Witt is young, growing. This will be his 1st year next to a CLASS 1/2 back. I really rate Witt. I've watched time after time his games this year, and he was REALLY good. He had one poor game yes, but gee wizz...Give the guy a break.

Remember - Cliffy Lyons (when there was unlimited interchange) was bought on in attack only by Fulton, as his defence didn't stand up. Witt's defence is MUCH better. Additionally, at 20, Lyons wasn't to Witt's level. In Lyon's 1st year at Manly after he was stolen, people wanted him canned....look at what he turned into. One of the best 5/8's ever to don a jersey !!!
If only we had Walker's attacking flair with Willo's defensive game. I thiink Walker was underrated in that Monaghan didn't look half as goos without him.

Trials will tell what is doing with this position but I just hope we don't have the revolviing door of the last 10 weeks of last season with every man and his girlfriend playing out of position. I am sure our pathetic play in the Semi was related to this problem and the lack of confidence in Witt's game.
It will be great for the season to start so that we can actually see the improvement in the team.
If only we had Walker's attacking flair with Willo's defensive game. I thiink Walker was underrated in that Monaghan didn't look half as goos without him.

Trials will tell what is doing with this position but I just hope we don't have the revolviing door of the last 10 weeks of last season with every man and his girlfriend playing out of position. I am sure our pathetic play in the Semi was related to this problem and the lack of confidence in Witt's game.

Canteen - we lost 9 - 11 games to end the season. Seven of those losses were without Witty, so I seriously doubt it was his form that set us up in that final (mind you, I think if he kicked that early penalty goal - we would have fared much better - the teams heads just dropped).

I think the poor end was about consistency. It goes both ways. When you trend towards winning, you often do so cincurrently. We were losing, and it became habit. A few victories would have changed all that.

There are WAY too many stars in our team now for that to occur again. We MAY lose the same number of games (we may not - I hope !!!), but I bet the losses will be more scatterred. The main goal I guess is NOT to limp into a final series, and that's what Manly did.

I don't think Darren Lockyer @ 5/8 in that last game against Parramatta would have saved us. Moral was just too low.

PS: I hope any contract negotiation THIS year is nipped in the bud early.

Who are the big names off contract?

Ben Kennedy
Steve Menzies
Chris Hicks?
Ashley Alberts
Kylie Leuleuai?
I am not sure we are Top 4 material but I think we can finish 5 or 6 if get our fair share of luck with injuries
Whoever plays there will only be playing second fiddle anyway, so we should get a ball RUNNER. Someone tall, rangey, with awesome defence. Someone in the mould of Scott Hill / Trent Barrett (although unlike Barrett, they would have to play second fiddle).

Apparently Jason Wells is that type of player from what little I have read.
[quote author=lasvegas]
who will be our 5/8 seriously

A choice of


Take your pick, I'm sure they'll all get a try at some point.


Unless we are succeeding (which is a very good chance), and there will be consistency.
Very good read,

I agree with the 3rd/4th finishing, we did beat every team last year exept for st george, parra & Nth Queensland. most of those were close losses and we beat all of those sides either in 2004 or 2003 so we can match it with all of the teams, and thats without orford and bell! :bdh: :bdh:
Team P W L PD Pts
10 9 1 124 20
10 8 2 81 18
10 7 3 70 16
10 7 3 69 16
11 7 4 59 14
10 6 4 -10 14
11 6 5 107 12
11 6 5 -9 12
10 5 5 -56 12
11 5 5 30 11
10 4 6 15 10
11 5 6 -12 10
11 4 6 -7 9
10 3 7 -103 8
10 2 8 -81 6
10 2 8 -91 6
10 1 9 -186 4
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