Three of Manly’s most talented young players will be out to further develop their craft in 2024 after securing new contracts with the Sea Eagles.
Jamie Humphreys has secured his immediate future with a new one-year deal for 2024.
The outstanding 2023 season of Clayton Faulalo in the NSW Cup has led to a two-year-contract with Manly.
And in further good news, the Sea Eagles have re-signed exciting young outside back Lehi Hopoate for the next three years.
A quality goal-kicker with plenty of skills, Humphreys was shifted from half-back to hooker midway through 2023.
After suffering a broken jaw at training in preparation for Manly’s opening NRL trial match in February, Humphreys made a successful return in round five of the Jersey Flegg before shifting to hooker in round 13. He was named the Jersey Flegg Players' Player for 2023.
In between, Humphreys played nine games for Blacktown Workers in the NSW Cup, shifting between the halves and hooker.
Sea Eagles Coach Anthony Seibold sees a bright future at hooker for 21-year-old Humphreys
“I feel Jamie’s best position going forward is at hooker. We transitioned him halfway through this year and put him back to Jersey Flegg to learn his trade, '’ Seibold said.
“Jamie was a very consistent player in that grade and was rewarded with playing NSW Cup, sharing the hooking role with Gordon Chan Kum Tong.
"We have got high hopes for Jamie. He has progressed well since he made the change.
"If Jamie can have a full pre-season now as a number nine and gets an opportunity in the trials, we feel he can continue to improve and challenge Lachlan Croker and ‘Gordie’ for our NRL number nine position in 2024.
“It was a good positional change for him and I feel like that is his best avenue to play first grade in the NRL.”
Faulalo had a superb debut season in the NSW Cup in 2023, scoring 29 tries in 24 games for the Blacktown Workers Sea Eagles.
Just as dangerous at full-back, wing or centre, the 23-year-old claimed the Players’ Player award for the Blacktown Workers. He was also named in the NSW Cup team of the year.
Seibold said the new deal was a fine reward for Faulalo.
“Clayton had an outstanding season in the NSW Cup and was the competition’s leading try scorer,’’ Seibold said.
“For a player who hasn’t been in any full-time environment, we are really excited about his potential and how we can progress him over the next two seasons.
“If you add that to his untapped talent, then we feel as though he can be a first grader of the future.
“Clayton will be training with the NRL squad full-time next year and will go into our top 30 in 2025.”
A proud local junior from the Beacon Hill Bears Club, Hopoate has risen through the Sea Eagles Pathways Program after joining Manly at the age of 12.
Hopoate was a real leader at full-back in Manly’s undefeated Harold Matthews Cup Premiership winning team in 2021 before taking on the captaincy duties for the team last year.
This season, the 18-year-old captained Manly’s SB Ball team and was again a shining light for the side before being promoted to the Jersey Flegg team.
Seibold said Hopoate can cover multiple backline positions.
“Lehi is a local junior who comes from a great pedigree with a number of his brothers and his Dad playing first grade,’’ Seibold said.
“We have invested in Lehi for the next three seasons, so he will spend some of this pre-season with the NRL full-time squad. He will then go back and play in the lower grades.
"In 2025 and 2026, Lehi will come into the full-time squad, firstly as a development player, and then into our Top 30 for 2026.
“It gives Lehi a great opportunity to develop over the next three years. He is still SG Ball age in 2024, so he is only at the very start of his career.
“We want to build him up physically and help with his game awareness. We feel like he will develop into a really good player for us.”