Tommy Turbo shuns comparisons with former greats
Tom Trbojevic is certain he's playing the Wests Tigers this weekend after recovering from an ankle injury but he's not sure where he ranks alongside some of the great Manly Sea Eagles fullbacks.
His captain Daly Cherry-Evans thinks it's premature to put Trbojevic alongside players like Melbourne's Australian fullback Billy Slater or Manly's legendary No.1 Brett Stewart – also a former Test fullback.
"He's always willing to learn. He's so young into his career," Cherry-Evans said Thursday.
"We all forget he's just three years playing NRL, so I won't be putting too much pressure into comparisons of where he stands right now or where he stands with past greats at fullback for Manly.
"But if he continues to play at the high level he's going to get some rep honours and he's going to put himself in conversations of Manly's best No.1s."
Stewart scored 163 tries in 233 games – 87 of those from 98 games at Brookvale Oval, now known as Lottoland.
Matthew Ridge left the Sea Eagles in 1996 – the year Trbojevic was born – for the Warriors, but departed with 32 tries from 122 games.
Graham Eadie retired in 1983 with the impressive figures of 71 tries in 113 games for Manly.
Trbojevic is tracking well. He's score 31 tries in 59 games – 10 of those in 20 games at Lottoland.
He opened his 2018 Telstra Premiership Season account with a try before the home crowd against Canberra in round three and returns in round six for the Tigers.
"You've named me with some pretty spectacular players over the years," Trbojevic said, when NRL.com suggested he was building a reputation like Stewart and Ridge before him.
"Brett Stewart was one I grew up watching him play – a fabulous player. I can't really answer that question.
"The fact you've put me in the boat is pretty special. I've definitely done nothing compared to what they have."
Cherry-Evans believes Trbojevic is on his way regardless.
"There is maybe something there. Some things in rugby league you can't quite put a stat on like fullbacks playing well for Manly at Brookvale," the skipper said.
"That's certainly a trend that Tommy will try to keep going.
"It's a good add for us," Cherry-Evans said on his No.1's early return – by one week – from injury.
"He's an extremely classy player who brings a real element of attack to our side. And you can't under-estimate the work he does for us defensively.
"We're looking forward to having the big fella back this weekend."
As for NSW Origin aspirations for the younger Trbojevic sibling, Cherry-Evans is equally adamant: "He's got my tick of approval for what it's worth."
Now for the Tigers. Manly is 2-3 so far, but Ivan Cleary's side is 4-1.
"They're going well aren't they," Cherry-Evans said. "They're working hard for each other defensively which is usually the sign of a good side rallying together."
And then in comes former Origin utility Josh Reynolds, himself returning from injury (hamstring).
"That's another class player added to an already winning formula. Hopefully that messes it up a bit and makes it a bit confusing for them," Cherry-Evans said.
"We'll take anything we can get."