The two referee’s have changed the way the game is played and we have gone away from wrestling, forward play late in the game, and we are seeing free flowing, skillful football late in games.
I think this has really hurt the Manly Sea Eagles.
Manly have become successful by playing the percentages. Play smart football, get dominance in the ruck, high completion rates, wear down your opponents, get the win.
If you look at the way this Manly side fits into the current style of the game, its gets left behind a little.
Look through the Sea Eagles lineup and they are short on players who can do the spectacular.
Brett Stewart can come up with an amazing run, a freakish pass and just break a game open.
Adam Cuthbertson has amazing skills for a big forward and can rip a game wide open with a nice little pass.
Outside of that….who has Manly got that doesn’t just offer a very straight up and down game?
Matt Orford is a choker who goes missing in tight games. He isn’t known for his passing or kicking game, and while he is an ok runner, he doesn’t run unless Manly is up by 20.
They don’t have a five-eight yet, Anthony Watmough is just a ball runner and needs to be put into space, Steve Matai is a defensive specialist, Jamie Lyon is fat, average and a defensive liability, Brent Kite tries hard but isn’t a game breaker….sure they can grind out a game and play the numbers, but they can’t rip a game open can they?
If you look at Brisbane on the weekend, you had Lockyer, Hodges and Folau just killing it. They tore the Storm apart with sweeping back line plays.
The Robotic Melbourne Storm are changing their game a little, but you have Greg Inglis, who can do anything, Billy Slater, who can do anything, Cooper Cronk who can pass, kick or run his team into something, then you have someone like Adam Blair who can run and pass the ball very well for a prop.
Under this new style of play we are seeing in 2009, you need game breakers, you need players that can not just break down an opposition over time, but you need players that can make something out of nothing in an instant. You can’t just rely on 80 minutes of wearing forward play, and I think that’s what is hurting Manly.
They are sweating on getting Stewart back, but I think its going to need something more for Manly to come back and be one of the real contenders this year. Because they play the numbers they should still finish high up the ladder, however unless someone like Chris Bailey steps up and becomes a star I don’t think they have the game breakers to be a true title contender.
There, I said it.