Manly coach Trent Barrett admits he underestimated how long it would take for fresh combinations to gel at the struggling NRL club.
Barrett is confident improvement is just around the corner for the winless Sea Eagles, but says even he didn’t realise how difficult bringing a new coach and eight key recruits together would be.
“It has taken a little bit longer than we thought,” Barrett said.
“We’ve probably been our own worst enemy in the first two rounds.”
Manly have conceded 64 points in their opening round losses to Canterbury and the Wests Tigers – their worst defensive record at this point of the season since they emerged out of the Northern Eagles merger in 2003.
However most of the negative attention has surrounded their attack.
They appeared clunky in both losses, completing at less than 75 per cent, and Daly Cherry-Evans in particular has been hammered for those performances.
Meanwhile his new halves partner Dylan Walker has tasted success just once in five games wearing the No.6 jersey throughout his NRL career at South Sydney and Manly.
Barrett maintains he will stick solid with the pairing.
“I’m not going to throw all preparation away just because we lost two games,” he said.
“We can’t waiver to any outside influences or remarks or media reports.
“There’s a lot that goes into our halves playing well, there’s a lot that has to happen around them.
“The better Cherry goes, the better Dylan goes and the more stability that we’ve got in the team with our other combinations, the better they’re going to go.”
Of key importance to the pair’s combination is the inclusion of Brett Stewart.
He is yet to play this season due to a hamstring injury, but set up nine tries and scored 16 of his own in 2016.
Barrett says there is more at play than just his absence.
“He does help our halves in their organisation, but having a new hooker and halves combination we were probably a little bit naive thinking it was just going to click right away.”
Barrett also said he is still uncertain whether Stewart will be available for Monday night’s clash against Cronulla at Brookvale Oval.
“He’s at that age where things do take a little bit longer to heel. He’s doing everything right and he’s desperate to play.”