MANLY’S teenage flyer Tommy Trbojevic will play State of Origin – and Thursday’s Brookvale Oval clash with Parramatta may decide if 2016 is his debut year.
Make no mistake, Blues coach Laurie Daley is a Tommy Turbo fan, as is Daley’s selection sounding board and Manly’s strategic football manager Bob Fulton.
The pair know deciding when to thrust the youngster into the cauldron of Origin is a vital decision for the 19-year-old’s future.
Thursday’s much-anticipated duel between Trbojevic and Parramatta’s runaway juggernaut Semi Radradra will be the perfect guideline.
They will clash head on providing they come through their respective games on Saturday (Radradra for Parramatta against Canberra and Trbojevic for Manly against the Warriors).
Radradra has been a one-man matchwinner against the Sea Eagles in the past two seasons and is widely regarded as the most destructive winger in the NRL.
Trbojevic can add to his fast-growing reputation with a good showing against the flying Fijian.
Their duel out wide will be worth the price of admission on Thursday.
Throw in the return to Brookvale of former gun five-eighth Kieran Foran, up against Dylan Walker, and the game is shaping as a must-see blockbuster.
THREE games in 10 days and no games in the next nine days.
That’s the crazy program the Sea Eagles have had in the lead up to today’s game against the Warriors in Auckland.
The team will rush back to Sydney on Sunday afternoon for yet another short turnaround for Thursday’s match at Brookvale Oval against Parramatta.
Meanwhile, some clubs have the luxury of seven day turnarounds for the first two months of the premiership.
In 48 years of covering the sport I have never seen a more unfair draw, it is beyond comprehension.
The NRL drive for the big TV deal has resulted in Monday and Thursday coverage for 2016 and the subsequent draw is the legacy.
MATAI’S MANY MATES
STEVE Matai is well into his second decade with the Sea Eagles but gets reminded every year that his home city is Auckland.
Matai’s mobile has rung hot this week with calls and messages from friends and relatives at home.
The calls are very similar. “How’s it going bro? Enjoying your football? How’s the family?”
Finally, the question comes: “Any spare tickets for the game?”
Matai has been helped out by teammates who don’t have any family connections in Auckland.
“It is great to see them and they all support Manly so I try and accommodate all the requests, ”Matai said.