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Manly Sea Eagles coach Trent Barrett said his side won’t be missing any grunt up front, despite the loss of Brenton Lawrence, and the departure of Nate Myles mid-way through the recently completed season.
Lawrence, who had made an off-season switch to the Gold Coast Titans, has since been forced to hang up his boots due to a range of injuries.
He follows Myles into retirement after the former international – who finished last season with the Melbourne Storm – announced he would be quitting after he was overlooked for the team’s September run to the Telstra Premiership.
The veteran props cranked out a combined 34 games for Manly in 2017. Losing metre-eating forwards seems to have become the mainstay at Manly.
Their pack have suffered some heavy hits in the years following the 2013 grand final.
Lawrence was the last survivor from that engine room that powered the Sea Eagles to the Telstra Premiership decider which they lost to the Sydney Roosters.
Brent Kite, Matt Ballin, Anthony Watmough, Justin Horo, Glenn Stewart, David Gower, Tom Symonds and George Rose have either retired, moved to another NRL club or headed to the Super League in recent years.
If you also include the departures of other big men like Jason King (retired end of 2014), Josh Starling (left for Newcastle end of 2016), Luke Burgess (Salford Reds in 2016), and other forwards like Feleti Mateo and Matt Parcell, it seems the Manly middle has been drained.
Despite the loss of these forwards, the Sea Eagles still managed to finish sixth on the NRL ladder last season and were third when it came to the number of tries scored with 101, trailing only premiers Melbourne (125) and Brisbane (109).
“Our front row will be right,” Manly coach Trent Barrett told NRL.com. “We have enough middles there. We’ve got Marty Taupau, Jake Trbojevic and Luke D’Arcy all starting in the middle there.
“Then we’ve got Addin Fonua-Blake, Lloyd Perrett and Taniela Paseka, who is out of the 20s and he’s a giant. So, we’ve got high hopes for him.”
Three of the six named by Barrett played in the World Cup and the club will benefit from them bringing that international experience to Brookvale.
Barrett has high hopes or 22-year-old prop Toafofoa Sipley, an off-season recruit from the New Zealand Warriors, and former Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs forward Shaun Lane.
“Toafofoa and Shaun have been spending a fair bit of time in the middle as well,” Barrett said. “We’ve got a fair bit of depth in the back row now, so we’re comfortable, well balanced.
“We did have a few injuries there last year with Nate and our middles, everyone being another year older, we should be OK there. I’m not worried.”