The Dylan Walker five-eighth experiment is over for now.
Manly coach Trent Barrett admitted his star recruit had wilted under the pressure of playing in the halves over the opening 11 rounds and is hoping a move back to the centres will kickstart Walker’s season.
Walker made a shock return to the flanks in Saturday’s 20-12 defeat to Cronulla, with retiring skipper Jamie Lyon winding back the clock to partner Daly Cherry-Evans at the scrumbase.
Barrett said it was a decision for Walker, who ran a team-high 125 metres, that had to be made.
“I just thought Dylan needed some time out in the centres,” Barrett said.
“It’s been hard on him. We’ve had nine different spines in 11 weeks which is hard, and it’s been tough on Dylan. I just wanted him to enjoy his footy.
“I thought he looked good in open space and I thought Jamie did a good job at five-eighth as well for him. Individually I was happy with a lot of the guys, but still things we’ve got to fix.”
Asked whether he was likely to stick with Walker in the centres, Barrett said: “Yeah, I think so.”
The Sea Eagles appeared headed for a long night when the Sharks cantered out to a 12-0 lead by the 30-minute mark, before storming back to level the game midway through the second half. However the Sharks responded, shutting out the Sea Eagles for the final 20 minutes of the match, leaving Barrett to rue a host of last-tackle options when the game was on the line.
“We need to learn to manage the game when the game’s in the balance,” he said.
“We came up with some plays that weren’t the best in certain situations.
“I thought our finishes could’ve been a little bit better. Their halves put them in a pretty good position there at the end.”
The loss leaves the Sea Eagles stuck in 12th spot ahead of next week’s bye.