Having received a reality check from the NRL’s benchmarks, Manly young gun Tom Trbojevic warns his side’s first year under coach Trent Barrett risks amounting to nothing.
After being been beaten by grand finalists North Queensland and Brisbane over the past two rounds, the Sea Eagles receive another acid test on Saturday from the in-form Cronulla, who are riding a seven-game winning streak.
Touted as top-four contenders in the pre-season, the Sea Eagles have slumped to 12th and Trbojevic admits they have underachieved in the first 10 rounds.
“It’s a reality check but it’s something that’s going to be good for us because we know where the benchmark is now and we know how good we need to be,” Trbojevic said.
“We can take that from the game and put it into our game and keep improving.”
With key acquisitions Nate Myles, Dylan Walker and Martin Taupau, the Sea Eagles were expected to be premiership contenders but received a harsh wake-up call after the Broncos and Cowboys put a combined 64 points on them in their past two games.
Even at Brookvale Oval, which has traditionally been a fortress, they are 1-4 this year.
The Sea Eagles have been a bogey side for the Sharks in recent times, winning their past seven encounters going back to 2013 including a final-round boilover which knocked Shane Flanagan’s side from the top four last year.
Trbojevic said the Sea Eagles had a better idea of where they sat in the pecking order and would be better for the experience.
“It’s hard to put a finger on it because everyone’s putting in the effort at training and on the field,” Trbojevic said.
“I think everyone’s finding it hard to gel together. But I think the more time we play together, we’ll start to build and build.
“Hopefully, we can turn it around because we don’t want to be sitting in 12th – we want to be fighting for a finals spot.”