IT IS time the NRL recognised the importance of the Manly Sea Eagles to the game of rugby league in a key catchment area for the code.
They sit in a critical geographical position for the code as the only northern NRL side between the northern pylons of the Harbour Bridge and the city of Newcastle.
It is a massive, heavily populated area with young families and there is a battle going on in the football codes for schoolboy and junior talent.
The NRL seems obsessed with western Sydney as a target area to the detriment of the northern beaches, north shore and Central Coast areas.
As a result, Aussie Rules and football are pushing harder than ever for a slice of the sporting talent.
In my 45 years on the northern beaches I haven't seen a more concerted push from football and Aussie Rules into the school and junior nurseries.
Aussie Rules is taking over the historical home of the Sea Eagles at Brookvale Oval for a day this month to push their code among the children.
This simply beggars belief. Can you imagine others codes opening their doors to help out a rival?
While all this is happening the NRL sits by doing little.
The Manly Junior League is a shambles and the competition is disintegrating with every season.
It needs a complete overhaul with the assistance of the NSW Rugby League and the NRL.
If financial and administrative support is not given there is every chance one of the great producers of talent for the NRL will eventually disappear.
INTEREST IN PROPS
MUCH early-season interest in the Sea Eagles will be on up-and-coming props Dunamis Lui and Josh Starling.
Lui (Brisbane Broncos) and Starling (Souths) have both come through the systems at their respective clubs well and have been crying out for an NRL opportunity.
They will get that at Manly and need only to check out their teammate Brenton Lawrence at training for inspiration.
This time last year Lawrence was like them - looking for an opportunity.
He starts 2014 on the brink of representative football and a grand final appearance under his belt.
I have seen little of Lui but checked out Starling in a half dozen games last season once I knew he was on Geoff Toovey's 2014 radar.
He is old school-type prop who plays in tight, is a strong ball runner and tough defender.
CEMENT HARD TO STOP
WHEN it comes to debate on who has been Manly's most ferocious and punishing defender over the club's history it usually comes down to two legends - Terry Randall and Geoff Toovey.
I subscribe to that mode of thought but when it came to timing in the tackle, the mid- 1990s prop Dave "Cement" Gillespie was hard to beat.
The boy from Narromine came to Manly after winning a premiership with the Bulldogs and always gave great value in Bob Fulton- coached teams.
Cement has been on a rigorous training and key program of late and is under 100kg for the first time in more than 30 years.
Like Randall and Toovey, he looks like he could still play.
Peter Peters - Manly Daily