From the moment the Sea Eagles landed in chilly Christchurch on Tuesday right up to game day, there was plenty of excitement across the city. Let's take a look at the week it was in our regular 'The Things We Learnt' column.
Let's start off with the fact that the Warriors were simply very good in the second half after a tight opening 40 minutes that saw both sides complete 16 of 18 sets. To lose the spark of hooker Api Koroisau with a foot injury after he scored the opening try was a huge blow for Manly and it did contribute to the loss. Coach Trent Barrett was rightly frustrated when he said the effort was certainly there, but it again came down to his players making some poor mistakes and choices in the second 40. Their forwards dominated and the likes of Shaun Johnson and Isaac Luke terrorised our boys. With just four wins under their belt, the Sea Eagles face an almighty challenge in the next few weeks as they fight to keep their season alive. Every fan is entitled to their opinion of where we now stand and many are hurting, but so are all involved with this great proud club of ours. It was only a few weeks back that many were full of praise following the superb wins over Brisbane and Melbourne. It's a funny old game rugby league!
Our Manly brothers
What a great effort it was by Jake and Tom Trbojevic to back up in Christchurch for Manly after their superb performances for NSW at the MCG on Wednesday night. The brothers' love and commitment to the Sea Eagles can never be questioned and both were keen to play on Saturday night after only arriving in Christchurch on Thursday afternoon. Good luck to Jake and Tom as they look to win the series for NSW in Game 2. And how good was Tommy on debut for the Blues? Just awesome.
Proud league community
The Canterbury region is a proud rugby league community and many people were delighted that Manly had brought a home game to Christchurch. Even the Warriors supporters who live in Christchurch congratulated the Manly Club for showing vision and making an ongoing commitment to the city. And as for AMI Stadium, it is a great little ground that had plenty of atmosphere created by the fantastic crowd of 17,357. The Sea Eagles are already looking forward to returning to Christchurch next year and working with Justin Wallace and his team from Walco Events. And whilst the NRL result might not have gone our way (and that's the main focus), it still was a very rewarding and successful week off the field for the Manly Club.
An incredible welcome
The Sea Eagles were blown away by the tremendous traditional welcome they received at the Nga Hau E Wha National Marae in Aranui on Tuesday. To see and hear about their proud heritage through words and songs was certainly an experience to remember. Following this, the players were then greeted by several hundred excited kids from the Canterbury Junior Rugby League at an indoor coaching clinic at Haeata Community Clinic.
One of the highlights for the Sea Eagles team was the opportunity to train and use the superb facilities of New Zealand rugby powerhouse club, the Crusaders. From their playing field, the locker rooms, administration, to their gymnasium, everything was certainly impressive and something any sporting club in any code would aspire to. What wasn't impressive was the chilling conditions the boys trained in, just a 'warm' 4 degrees according to the locals. It was certainly a tough and an unusual experience for all.
Special dinner event
Our Christchurch match promoters, Walco Events, put on a very successful dinner at Christchurch Casino on Thursday night with former New Zealand league identity and former Manly Coach and CEO, Graham Lowe, the guest speaker. Manly Coach Trent Barrett, Martin Taupau, Lewis Brown, Api Koroisau and Trent Hodkinson attended the dinner as did some young Warriors players who entertained the audience of VIP guests to travelling Manly supporters, with some footy tales. The night also saw money raised to send some talented local players from the Canterbury region to Manly for pre-season training.
That old saying about Manly fans don't travel any further than the Spit Bridge is truly buried now. Over the past few weeks, we have seen and met hundreds of Sea Eagles fans who have attended our games in Brisbane, Melbourne, Canberra, and now Christchurch. Some of these fans have made the wonderful effort of attending all of these games, often at great expense to themselves and their families.
Our players and coaching staff truly appreciate the efforts made especially by those who flew over the 'ditch' to be in Christchurch, many of whom were invited to watch the team train at the Captain's Run on Friday morning at AMI Stadium. And dare I say it, many of those Members will 'travel again' to be in Wollongong next Saturday for the clash with the Dragons. See you there, Manly fans!