Manly have named a powerful squad to play the Sharks in their first pre-season trial tonight at Pittwater Park at 5.30pm.
Players returning from injury or surgery are the likes of Ballin, Jake Trbojevic and Hasson.
New recruits playing in the trial include Willie Mason, Feleti Mateo, Blake Leary and Luke Burgess.
The only notables missing from the list of 36 players include Kieran Foran, Steve Matai, Jorge Taufua and Jamie Buhrer. I believe all should be available for Round 1 (or aiming for Round 1).
Manly are renowned for never taking pre-season games seriously. I canít recall us winning too many of these games over the years. The key will be to build up combinations, have a hit out and come through unscathed (as they did in the Nines!).
Interestingly, young Tom Trbojevic will line up in the Under 20ís game. But given Manly have an embarrassment of riches in the outside backs, I imagine the coaching staff will not be rushing this young future star into first grade unless necessary down the track.
The other notable point is that Michael Chee-Kam will wear the 13 jumper, with Mateo coming off the bench. The battle for back-row starting spots starts now with Symonds, Chee-Kam, Horo, Mateo and Buhrer all in contention to press claims. Though I do find Chee-Kam a surprise starter at this point. You can even throw Jesse Sene-Lefao and Dunamis Lui into this mix depending on whether the coaching staff see them as playing prop or back-row.
The backline just about picks itself, with Stewart at fullback, Hiku and Gutherson on the wing, Lyon and Blair (replacing Matai) in the centres, and Littlejohn (replacing Foran) partnering Cherry-Evans in the halves.
What players or combinations are you interested in for this game?