Whatever Manly are doing in the off-season, it’s not working – and hasn’t for almost a decade.
The Sea Eagles’ embarrassing 46-4 loss to the Roosters was their eighth straight loss in the opening round of the year.
Missing some key personnel, Manly barely put up a fight against a Roosters team that rarely had to get out of first gear.
Losing in round one immediately puts the heat on a team – and it’s a feeling Manly know all too well.
Coach Des Hasler is already under pressure, particularly in the light of some strange selections.
Contrast Manly’s round one record to the Storm, who have their first game for 20 straight seasons – one of the most remarkable feats in modern rugby league.
MORRIS TWINS STILL DEFYING AGE
They turn 35 in a few months – and some thought the Morris twins were playing one season too long in 2021.
It took just 80 minutes to prove the doubters wrong at the SCG on Saturday night, however.
Brett was amazing, scoring three tries, overtaking the great Andrew Ettingshausen as the fourth highest tryscorer in the game’s history in the process as he took his career tally to 168.
Brother Josh wasn’t quite as dominant, but was the ultimate professional – as always – and scampered over for the final try of the Roosters’ big win over Manly.
BARRETT-FLANAGAN LOOKING THE GOODS
Bulldogs coach Trent Barrett was one of the best running halfbacks/five-eighths of the modern era – and his magic already looks to be rubbing off on new recruit Kyle Flanagan.
In a well-beaten team, Flanagan created all three of his team’s tries and looked a far more mature player than the one the Roosters ultimately cut late last year.
Sadly, Flanagan’s halves partner Jake Averillo must have missed the message on taking on the line over the summer.
Averillo went through the match against the Knights without making a single run, finishing with zero metres – a nightmare for any SuperCoach punters who had him in their line-ups.
The youngster can play – but clearly suffered a bad case of stage fright in the season opener.
PAPENHUYZEN KEEPING TEDESCO HONEST
Ryan Papenhuyzen had some critics wondering if he is now the best fullback in the game after his stunning two-try effort in the season-opener for Melbourne against Souths.
The pocket rocket was dynamic, terrorising the Rabbitohs out wide as the Storm scored an upset win.
But 48 hours later, James Tedesco rose to the challenge, scoring a hat trick in his first hit-out of the season against a disappointing Manly.
He’s still No.1 – but Papenhuyzen is keeping him honest.
JAMES COULD BE BUY OF THE YEAR CONTENDER
Injury ravaged his past two seasons – but a change of colours may just see Ryan James return to his best in 2021.
The big man looked a player on a mission in his Canberra debut against Wests Tigers yesterday – and may just give the Raiders that extra edge to end their title drought in recent years.
The former Titans skipper was superb up the middle, scoring a try and adding thrust off the bench.
As he gets more match fitness, he will have an even greater presence and shapes as one of the buys of the year.
For a daily dose of the best of the breaking news and exclusive content from Wide World of Sports, subscribe to our newsletter by clicking here!