The Manly Sea Eagles are a common choice amongst NRL tipsters as a Top 4 contender in 2008. After a stunning season in 2007, apart from failing in the Grand Final – the Sea Eagles pretty much did everything right. They had a good playing roster, well balanced, decent depth and were well coached.
Manly have let several players go after 2007, most notably Michael Monaghan.
While other quality players such as Travis Burns have been released, few could argue the at times maligned Michael Monaghan will be a pivotal loss to the Eagles.
It was a unique scenario out Brookvale way, almost everyone in the NRL universe could see how good Michael Monaghan was except those inside the Manly bunker. As Monaghan continued to excel and at times win Manly games on his own, the power brokers at the Eagles seemed hell bent on casting him of. First he was moved aside for Matt Orford, only a last ditch insistence from Manly backer Max Delmege saved Monaghan from being cut very early on.
While Manly chased the big name signings in Matt Orford, Jamie Lyon and Steve Bell they still didn’t realise they had a match winner in their own backyard already. After the consistency they experienced in 2007, I think Manly are in for a rude shock this year. The dynamic, probing attack of Monaghan is long gone – as is his passion and contagious energy.
For anyone at Manly unsure of Monaghan’s value, they only need look at his first appearance in the UK Super League last night. Trotting out for the Warrington Wolves who have been average at best in recent times, Monaghan took the man of the match honours and instantly brought creditability to the Warrington line up. Sea Eagles fans will also be interested to know that Monaghan’s partner in crime was Chris Hicks – the former Eagles winger also putting in a classy showing and bagging a try in his maiden appearance.
While the Sea Eagles might be happy with commendable new signings David Vaealiki, Heath L’Estrange and Josh Perry – with respect, none of these buys can replace Monaghan. So as NRL kick off nears for 2008, maybe Manly might finally realise what the rest of the Rugby League world already knows – Michael Monaghan was an out and out match winner and the Eagles rarely if ever treated him with the respect he deserved.