Here is my side for Round 1 in 2015:
In response to nrl.com naming their Round 1 teams for 2015 this week, here is my side -
Fullback Brett Stewart
Wing Jorge Taufua
Centre Jamie Lyon ©
Centre - Steve Matai
Wing Peta Hiku
5/8 Kieran Foran
Halfback Daly Cherry-Evans
Prop Siosaia Vave
Hooker - Matt Ballin
Prop - Brenton Lawrence
2nd row Jamie Buhrer
2nd Row Tom Symonds
Lock Feleti Mateo
Interchange - Jesse Sene-Lefao
Interchange Willie Mason
Interchange Justin Horo
Interchange Jayden Hodges
This side has a different look to what we saw in 2014, with the obvious being the forward pack changes. Gone are Watmough, Glenn Stewart, King and Lui. In comes Mason, Vave and Mateo.
In 2014, size in the forwards was always a talking point when it came to whether Manly could seriously take out the Premiership. It was always in the back of my mind, even when we lead the comp deep into the regular season. But in Mason and Vave we now have two props who are 115-120kg. This is exactly what was missing.
I have opted to leave out Josh Starling for now. But he is a whole hearted player and will be pushing for selection all season. I just feel for a prop, being 105kg we need to head in a slightly different direction for the start of 2015.
I have also decided to give Hodges some game time off the bench. Ballin has been an 80 minute machine for many years, but I feel Hodges deserves to come on for 25-30 mins in the first few rounds, given what he showed against the Bulldogs in the Finals.
As far as depth is concerned, Manly are in a healthy position. The likes of Gutherson, Blair, the Trbojevic Brothers, Satini, Berryman, Starling, Hasson, Andrews, Chee-Kam and Sao will all be ready for injuries or form issues right from the get go.
I think Manly will win the comp in 2015 barring major injuries.
Run at me season 2015.
Is this a team that can go all the way in 2015?