Manly club officials have today announced unspecified compassionate leave for Kite and will miss the tour completely. It’s not known whether Kite will start the NRL season proper at this stage.
The news continues a bad period for Manly, who announced details of their internal turmoil today – with owners embroiled in a power struggle for control of the club.
Coach Des Hasler has drafted in 2 new players in his 23-man squad for the WCC match in the UK.
Former Knights pivot Chris Bailey comes in with high expectations and former Penrith NRL Premiership winning forward Shane Rodney get their chance to make a name for themselves in the Manly side bursting with stars.
The Sea Eagles are without 3 players from their Premiership winning side Steve Menzies, Steven Bell and Mark Bryant who all took up lucrative contracts in the Super League.
Flankers Michael Bani and ex-Eels winger Tony Williams are others that won’t make the trip. Competition for Manly wing spots is set to be fierce with Michael Robertson and Wolfman trying to keep Bani and T. Williams at bay.
Steve Matai and Brett Stewart have returned well from surgery in the off-season and will take up spots in the squad. It will be interesting to see how Matai performs injury wise in 2009, the Manly centre is not only injury prone – but seems to go down in pain more often than an Italian Soccer player. There was only a handful of games in 2008 where Matai didn’t either go down, or leave the field clutching a shoulder, neck or his head.
Coach Des Hasler seems genuinely determined to get a win in the WCC, confirming the sides strong training so far and the fact that Manly will be flown internationally in first class to ensure the player comfort levels are kept at optimum.
“It is a big game for us as it is also the NRL side’s final trial match before the season.” confirmed Hasler.
Manly take-off on Sunday for the WCC game at Elland Road on March 1.
The Sea Eagles will face the Harlequins in a warm up match in London on February 22.
The last time an NRL side won the WCC was 2003, when Sydney-City beat St Helens.