A quality mix of some fine young talent and experience will ensure the Manly Warringah Sea Eagles remain competitive in the NSWRL SG Ball Cup competition in 2022.
Manly open their season against the Canberra Raiders at Raiders Belconnen in Holt on Saturday under respected Sea Eagles Pathways Academy Coach Brett Fulton and new captain Daniel O’Donnell.
It will be the first time the two U19s teams have clashed since the Raiders beat the Sea Eagles 20-18 in the 2021 preliminary final to end Manly’s campaign a week out from the Grand Final after Manly won six of eight matches in the regular season.
From the 2021 SG Ball side, Kaeo Weekes and Tolu Koula are now in the Sea Eagles Top 30 squad while half-back Jamie Humphreys and hooker Gordon Chan Kum Tong have been promoted to the Manly development squad.
Captain Daniel O’Donnell, Kobe Fulton, Charlie Thompson and Luke Tucker are some of the players that remain from last season with several others moving up to the Jersey Flegg (U21s) squad.
The SG Ball side has also been boosted by the inclusion of Manly 2021 Harold Matthews and NSW Under 16 Player of the Year, five-eighth Latu Fainu along with his highly rated brother, second-rower Samuela Fainu as well as prolific point scoring centre Josh Feledy.
A former Mona Vale Raiders junior, O’Donnell said he was honoured to be appointed captain.
The captaincy role is not new to O’Donnell, who led the 2019 Harold Matthews Cup team – a season that saw him take out the team’s Player of the Year award.
“I’ve been with the Sea Eagles Pathways Academy for a few years now, so it means so much to captain these boys,’’ O’Donnell said.
“Growing up and watching Manly, it's a special feeling to play for this club.”
SG Ball Coach Brett Fulton
Fulton said the many ‘fine attributes’ in O’Donnell made him a natural captain.
“Daniel is a very good communicator. He leads the boys by example,’’ Fulton said.
“Any fitness related type drills or testing at training, Daniel is always up front. The boys look to him for that leadership when times get tough.”
O’Donnell said the SG Ball team were fortunate again to have Fulton as their head coach.
“Brett’s knowledge for the game is quite amazing,’’ O’Donnell said.
“He has a calmness as well about him. If we are in a position we might not want to be in, Brett’s calmness in the sheds helps us to get things back on track.”
Manly are out to win that elusive SG Ball Cup trophy after finishing runners-up in 1990, 1991, 1998, and 2019.
Rd 1 vs Canberra Raiders
Saturday, February 5
Raiders Belconnen, Hardwick Cres, Holt. Kick-off 2pm
To live stream this game, visit the Daily Telegraph website.