Review of 2006 to date:-

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Journey Man
Matt Orford. I think it only took TWO halves of footy for Orford to find his groove/feet. I noticed his short passing game really took off in that second 1/2 against The Tigers (espescially with Watmough, and Leuleuai). His kicking game is sensational. He started really talking it up on the field, and was the obvious leader when BK was off the field.

Michael Monaghan. I think he has found his niche at 5/8. He seemed to combine well with Orford, and the two of them as play makers seemed to confuse the opposition somewhat. I felt as though our defence was at its strongest when Ballin was at Hooker, Monaghan 5/8, and Orford at half back (Start of 2nd 1/2 against The Roosters). He's having a REALLY good year so far. I'm glad Monnas is still in the maroon and white. It also makes our team look and seem stronger on paper.

Brent Kite. Thank you Ricky Stuart. I think you have given him back his motivation, steel and aggression we saw from him at St George. He has had a stellar start to the 06 campaign. I can almost visualise a green and gold jersey on the guy. Two droppsies today, but that was nothing compared to his damaging runs, and smacking defence. It almost bought back days of having The Spud back at Brookie.

Jason King. He seems to have lost weight (upper torso), and also seemed to be a lot more mobile. He did some pretty damaging runs, but I thought his lateral defence may have been a tad better, but I put that down to match fitness. I thought he made pretty good impact on the game, and would rate him right up there. Well done Jason, I knew you'd do it!!!

George Rose. After watching him in three games for Manly so far (2 today - he played Premier League AND 1st grade), I think Dessies call about his weight not being an issue is 100% correct, because he has skill. He was by FAR the most damaging prop in reserve grade, then seemed like one of the better ones in 1st grade as well. How someone that size moves as quick as him, or for as many minutes is beyond me !!!

Adam Cuthbertson. Last week against The Roosters, he had a blinder of a game. This week, a solid one. He continuously created second phase play in BOTH matches, hit hard in defence, and spoke as a leader on the park. These games have proven to me that he should be a very close candidate for 1st grade. In general play and impact on the game, I think Cuthbo is a better 2nd rower than Willow, but at the same time, Willow finds the try line more often, and is more diverse. What to do? Cuthbertson is a mirror of Ben Kennedy in my opinion. Ruthless, yet prone to the VERY OCCASSIONAL error because they want to CREATE so much - and that's not a bad thing at all !!!

Matt Ballin. Every game he plays, he seems to have the ball on a piece of string ! Just as Fox Sports have said, he HAS to be in the mind of Des Hasler for the first grade team. He only played Premier League today, but again (much like Cuthbertson), showed he was a class above the other guys in that group. I look at 1st grade selection like this. Why have a 5/8 (Monaghan) play Hooker, so that a 1/2 back (Witt) can play 5/8, to make room for a true half back (Matt Orford)? Ballin in the team puts everybody (plus Dunley) in their preferred specialised roles. It also means Dunley will make more impact coming from the bench.

Michael Witt. I rate Witt as a player, but his form in both trials in my opinion has left a lot to be desired. I thought most of the attack today stemmed from Clint Halden. Unfortunately, I believe Monaghan should be 5/8 rather than Witt, at least until he gets his confidence back. There was a lot of dropped ball from Witt, and his biggest weapon (goal kicking) wasn't too crash hot either, when in comparison to other years. He'll get his groove back no doubt. I just hope it's through Premier League, because I don't want it to cost us in first grade.

Paul Stephenson. Late in that second 1/2 today against The Tigers, he showed what he could actually do !!! Agression, size, speed and power. I think it came down to confidence. Once he scored that try, he had self belief again. I think Hooker is a no brainer for Dessie to pick (Ballin), but either Robertson / Stephenson will be the toughest selection delema in my opinion.

Michael Robertson. Pace to burn? He's quick, he gets involved, and he doesn't run sidewards like Scott Donald used to. I like his style of play, I like his energy. The hardest hurdle for this guy, is Steppa though. I couldn't just drop Steppa.

Steve Matai. While he showed that he can score a try today, he also showed that he was found wanting in defence, and dropping the ball. This is another position I think that needs to be looked at, and I'm hoping Ashley Alberts fills that void in a few weeks time. I won't discuss Matai's performance against The Roosters, or Parramatta last year for that manner.

In general, I think our structure, and style in attack is a hell of a lot better this year. We seem commited and confident. Matt Orford seems to instill confidence in those around him. We have a lot more leadership. Ben Kennedy seems like a great captain. Spoke to the ref today and once he heard the refs decision, just conceded, got back in the defensive line and reved up for battle again.

Anyways guys n girls...I'm pretty excited about the year ahead. I also have a few concerns (as I've discussed recently around player selections), but I doubt Dessie will name Moorwood / Cherry in 1st grade in season proper. Maybe I'm wrong too?

Canteen Worker

First Grader
Well done Ryan. Obviously Des, as an outstanding coach has the Sea Eagles pumping.

Can't agree with you about Monaghan. I thought he was very good at hooker but he and Orford did not look good in the halves.

Jatz Crackers

First Grader
Top shelf Ryan.

This start to a season is intriguing. very pleased about King & Steppa today.

Im constantly reveiwing the team selection as all this info unfolds about the new guys and positional changes.

I think I will have to lock my opinions about MM as 5/8th in the vault until Ive had a chance to watch a game and assess first hand.


Journey Man
CW although monas and orford did not gell greatly it apeared to me that orford was the weak link in the 2. - it was weird, when the ball went to monas on one side with orford on the other it went well, but when orford tried to gell with either monas or Cherry he couldnt. Maybe we need F witt (based on today's performance) so that orford knows he is the only play maker.

Ryan good summary - point to note that when stewy got in the clear he got ran down, when steppa got in the clear he ran away with it - steppa has pace to burn - i loved his performance today.

matai paired with robbo - may as well ask for the spoon now.

Jatz Crackers

First Grader
Fluffy, could that just be because Ox has had a long term halves combination at another club and this is simply the learning phase with two relative unknowns here. Or do you think its more than that ?

Canteen Worker

First Grader
BK chareged onto inside flat balls from Orford several time and took a power of defending. Watmough scored from an inside Orford pass. Matai scored from an outside short Orford pass.

Orford took the heat off our forwards inside their quarter and it is no coincidence King. Bryant and Kylie scored as Orford looked to drift away from the ruck as the dummy receiver.

It is only going to get better. Once our running back row adjusts to the flat passing game they will kick!!!


Journey Man
Fluffy, could that just be because Ox has had a long term halves combination at another club and this is simply the learning phase with two relative unknowns here. Or do you think its more than that ?

To be honest jatz its hard to tell, but i think it is the new combo thing. He hasnt (nor the team) had a chance to settle with 1 pivot. Monas' attack is known by our guys and they can predict it well.

If we have these 2 in the halves then expect a lot of side to side play as each player will command 1 side and do it well in my opinion.

One thing that is excellent is that the tiges could not rush monas nor orford as plenty of teams did to monas last year. We have a second option at last


I think what will ultimately decide the fate on the wing. Robertson V Stephenson.. will be who is the better defender and who has the better bomb defusing ability. From what i saw of Robertson last year for Canberra.. he is woeful under the high bombs.

Seems pretty straight forward to me.

1. Stewart
2. Stephenson
3. Bell
4. Matai
5. Hicks
6. Monaghan
7. Orford
8. King
9. Ballin
10. Kite
11. Menzies
12. Watmough
13. Kennedy (c)

14. Lulu
15. Dunley
16. Willow
17. Bryant

I think its too soon for Cuthberson Robertson and Rose as Des will show faith with last years lads.

Id personally get rid of Matai.. Hicks in centres Robertson on the other wing.

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