In terms of their first problem, the halfback position – there are plenty of wraps on the new halves coming through the ranks at the Sea Eagles, but rookies no matter how good they are will struggle to achieve consistency in the weekly grind of NRL footy.
Kieran Foran and Trent Hodkinson are getting plenty of praise as possible no.7’s but the pressure will be immense on the starting half as Manly try to rebuild in 2010.
The other major concern is the Brett Stewart legal drama. The talented fullback is close to the best in the game when on-song, but his continuing legal situation is not only a drain on him – but the team too. While they won’t admit it, this will weigh on the minds of Stewart and teammates in 2010.
While Manly have lost Heath L’Estrange and Glenn Hall in the forwards, what would really be worrying coach Des Hasler would be the continued drop in form for Brent Kite. The former Dragons an Australian forward, Kite has been on the decline since winning the Clive Churchill Medal in the 2008 Grand Final.
Hasler has been using Kite off the bench of late, and with departures in the forwards – Kite will be sorely needed to perform at pre-2009 levels.
Possibly the biggest drain on Manly has been the loss of Steve Menzies. Few have pointed to the loss of the veteran Menzies, but while the Beaver was at the end of his career – he was the ‘gel’ that really brought all aspects of the Manly team together. Losing him was like getting a hole in the heart of the entire team.
Finally, the desire factor has really had a negative effect on this side. After winning the NRL Grand Final in 2008 by such a comprehensive margin – that burning desire might have subsided just a tiny bit.
All these factors point to Manly missing the Top 8 in 2010. They scraped in last year and were sent packing in Week 1 of the Finals after copping a hiding at the hands of Melbourne – but this year, they will probably fall short of finals.