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He's a premiership-winner with Manly and a former New Zealand captain, but can Kieran Foran get back to his best in his return for the Sea Eagles this season?

Returning to the club after stints at the Eels, Warriors and Bulldogs, Foran's career has been derailed by injuries in recent years. He has averaged just 13 appearances per season across the past five years since leaving Manly in 2015.

But back at the club where he made his name and under inspirational coach Des Hasler, can Foran revive the glory days?

Will Kieran Foran thrive at Manly again?

For – senior journalist Martin Lenehan

At his best Kieran Foran is a world class five-eighth with the ability to change the course of a game with a surge from close range for a try or a solid shot in defence which lifts his teammates.

The best of Foran was on show at Manly in 2011 when he won a premiership as a 21-year-old and again in 2013 when the Sea Eagles made the grand final, but the $64,000 question out Brookie way is whether there's any magic dust left for 'Foz' to sprinkle.

A look back at the 2011 Grand Final

Father Time and a horror injury toll have caught up with the Kiwi playmaker to the extent that he managed just 40 games in his three seasons at Canterbury.

Now 30, he has been given the chance to revive the glory days at Manly alongside coach Des Hasler and captain Daly Cherry-Evans – two men who played such pivotal roles in the early part of Foran's career.

There's no way Hasler would have brought Foran back to Manly if he felt the five-eighth was washed up and had nothing to offer.

After the disappointment of 2020, Hasler will have very clear plans about the path back to finals footy and Foran striking up a potent combination with his old mate DCE is sure to be part of that strategy.

If Foran finds form and fitness in the No.6 jersey that frees up Dylan Walker to roam wider at centre where he is far more potent.

With superstar Tom Trbojevic back in the No.1 jersey and Moses Suli and Jorge Taufua hitting hard with the ball and without it, Manly have a backline more than capable of matching motors with the heavyweights of the NRL.

Foran's fierce will to win and his proven track record in big games make him an astute signing for a Manly outfit which has lost the experience of Joel Thompson and Addin Fonua-Blake for 2021.

By the time the Sea Eagles run out for their season opener against the Roosters it will have been 189 days since Foran's final match in Canterbury colours so he is bound to be a bit rusty.

But once the 213-gamer gets some miles in the legs he'll quickly find his old form and play a leading role in making Dessie's men a premiership force again.

Why Cherry-Evans can’t wait to reunite with Foran

Against – journalist Paul Zalunardo

Kieran Foran was once a star player on premiership-winning teams. Along with the likes of the Steve Menzies, Steve Matai, Anthony Watmough, Brent Kite and the Stewart brothers he oversaw a wonderful period of success at Manly.

After five injury-plagued years at Parramatta, the Warriors and Canterbury, Foran now finds himself back at Manly hoping to rediscover what once was.

The long-term injuries he has suffered would have resulted in players with less determination walking away from the game, but not Foran.

The manner in which he has persisted gives an indication as to the mindset required to become an elite player.

But sadly for Foran he isn't getting any younger and not even a return to the northern beaches is likely to see him wind back the years.

The Sea Eagles' 2020 season in review

There is certainly a feel-good factor about his reunion with Des Hasler and the Sea Eagles, but a look at Manly's strongest side for 2021 suggests it is likely to be hard work for Foran to be in the starting 13.

Daly Cherry-Evans is a lock for both the captaincy and the No.7 jersey and a fit and firing Dylan Walker is a potential match-winner at five-eighth.

With Manase Fainu still subjected to the NRL's no fault stand-down policy, there has been talk Foran could start the year in the No.9 jersey.

For that to be an option, surely Hasler would need to have a second hooker on the bench to give Foran a break.

Maybe Foran's best spot in this Manly side is as a utility player coming off the bench. He could easily fill either of the halves spots, and limited amounts of time at dummy half is eminently doable.

An injury in the outside backs could also see Hasler move Walker in the centres and play Foran with DCE in the halves.

But before Hasler can begin plotting a course for the Kiwi Test great, Foran first needs to get his body right and be available week-in, week-out.

But after being limited to just 66 games since leaving Manly at the end of the 2015 season, the odds appear stacked against him.

Analysing the Sea Eagles' 2021 draw

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