Has Manly great Brett Stewart’s NRL career reached terminal decline?
The 31-year-old’s woeful 2016 continued on Monday with another anonymous performance against Gold Coast as the Sea Eagles slipped to a 30-10 defeat at Robina.
Stewart made just four runs for 40 metres as Manly suffered their sixth loss in a row.
It’s part of a wider trend across the past 12 months where the former NSW State of Origin fullback’s number have declined dramatically.
In 2014 Stewart averaged 88 metres per game in 22 matches for the Sea Eagles, scoring 10 tries and making 58 tackle busts.
Last year his running metres dropped to an average of 57 per game with just 32 tackle busts.
In 10 games this year Stewart has scored just one try, averaged 43 running metres per game and made just six tackle busts.
He has also made just one linebreak, two try assists and two offloads.
Manly’s injury crisis has probably forced coach Trent Barrett to not seriously consider axing the out-of-form star, with young gun Tom Trbojevic a successor-in-waiting for the fullback role.
But Stewart’s teammates are behind the dual-premiership player, saying it’s easy to pick out individual targets when the team isn’t performing well.
“He’s just trying his best at the moment,” New Zealand international Lewis Brown told AAP.
“That’s the thing when your back’s against the wall, fingers get pointed and stuff like that.
“Obviously Snake – he’s a great player. He’s a life member of this club and he’s a real leader within this group. A lot of boys look up to him.”
SNAKE WITH NO VENOM – Brett Stewart’s NRL decline in numbers
2014 (22 matches): 10 tries, 9.8 avg runs, 88 avg mtrs, 58 tackle busts, 11 linebreaks, 18 try assists
2015 (22 matches): 16 tries, 7.6 avg runs, 57 avg mtrs, 32 tackle busts, 6 linebreaks, 10 try assists
2016 (10 matches): 1 try, 6.3 avg runs, 43 avg mtrs, 6 tackle busts, 1 linebreak, 2 try assists
(Source: Fox Sports Stats)