The stunning debut of teenage sensation Tom Trbojevic is the light shining through Manly’s early season NRL gloom.
The injury-hit Sea Eagles crashed to their worst start in a season since 2009 on Saturday night in falling 29-16 to Canberra at Albury’s Lavington Sports Ground.
The perennial finalists are now 1-4 to start the 2015 season and locked into a dogfight to qualify for their 11th successive playoff series come September.
Manly were outmuscled and outenthused by a Raiders outfit that had been thumped 34-6 by Sydney Roosters the week before.
But at 192cm and 96kg, 18-year-old Trbojevic stood large on an otherwise forgettable night for Manly.
The NSW U-18s star who has dominated in the National Youth Competition this year, scored two tries, including his first just 122 seconds into his NRL debut and according to Fox Sports Stats made 190m from 23 runs with the football.
“I thought he was really good, he brought some youthful enthusiasm, his stats were right up there and he tried his butt off,” Toovey said.
“Given the opportunity he had tonight I thought he did really well.”
Captain Brett Stewart said any suggestions Manly were struggling because of the end of season departures of Kieran Foran and Daly Cherry-Evans were “an excuse”.
“We just need to find ways to win, we have the playing staff to do that,” he said.
Cherry-Evans injured his foot in the second half but played on and Toovey said he was expected to be fit for Manly’s round six clash with Penrith on Saturday week