Double departure has Starling keen to lead

You don't have to tell Manly prop Josh Starling about the huge impact Glenn Stewart and Anthony Watmough had on the club.

It's exactly the reason why their departures has the 24-year-old keen to expand his playing role towards becoming more of a leader, with just one full season of first grade under his belt.

Call it the influence of Watmough and Stewart or the natural growth of a player in the NRL, either way Starling is looking to help contribute and continue a certain high standard which the Sea Eagles have become known for over the past decade.

"Gifty and Choc brought a lot to this club and did a lot for it as well. They helped rebuild the Sea Eagles from the ground when they weren't having much luck," Starling told NRL.com.

"They have our respect and there is a legacy they have left here which we'll try and carry on too."

Along with a few other teammates, Starling has now made it his mission to set an example at the club both on and off the field.

After leaving South Sydney, Starling took part in every single Sea Eagles game last year and is looking to build on it again in 2015. 

"There was a few of us who played a lot of games last year and we have all made it our mission to step it up and talk more," Starling said. 

"I'll be honest, I was shy coming to a new club last year so I've tried to step it up a bit this year and lead by example with my actions. Manly is such a great club and I love it and I can't wait to stick around for the next couple of years."

While Starling's goals are admirable, achieving them won't come without its challenges especially when it comes to the prop stocks pushing for a start in first grade.

Brenton Lawrence is a sure thing for a spot and so too is the influential Willie Mason, but pressure builds for Starling when it comes to the likes of former Sharks prop Sosaia Vave, Indigenous All Star Tyson Andrews and others in Jesse Sene-Lefao, Dunamis Lui and James Hasson.

"I've never taken my opportunities here at the Sea Eagles for granted no matter who we have here," Starling said.

"We had two blokes in Willie and Sosaia that have come in who have been great for us.

"But then there are blokes who have been here for a while like Sene-Lefao, Michael Chee Kam and Andrews so I have plenty of blokes nipping at my heels for a starting spot."

Starling ultimately believes he is primed for a huge season. Feeling fit and with a Country Origin berth in the back of his mind, the Helensburgh Tigers junior is looking to improve on his 2014 averages of 22.4 tackles and 91.4 metres per game.