DCE said that losing star fullback Tom Trbojevic for the start of the year will not be as devastating as it was in 2020.

Manly captain Daly Cherry-Evans said that losing star fullback Tom Trbojevic for the start of the year will not be as devastating as it was in the 2020 season.

“At times we didn’t play well without him, so that’s created a bit of a stigma there I reckon, but I think we’re better prepared for it,” he told Wide World of Sports at the 2021 season launch on Thursday.

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Trbojevic injured his hamstring a fortnight ago, and will miss the opening few rounds.

“We have a chance to prepare. In a way we’re lucky it didn’t happen in round one so we’ve got a genuine chance to train without him.

“There’s not many, but that’s one of the only silver linings.”

After playing just seven games in 2020, there has been some suggestion of moving the star fullback to the centres, where he could preserve his body more – an idea Cherry-Evans rejected.

“I understand where people are coming from, it’s not a stupid idea – but I’ve seen first-hand the impact he has at fullback and I’m more than happy for him to stay there.

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“The best thing we can do is do the best for our team, I’m pretty sure that means Tommy at fullback.”

Trbojevic denied that his injury was the result of a footrace after a night out, but did his teammates still sledge him for losing to a random fan?

“Of course we did, you can’t lose a race like that in The Corso,” the captain said with a laugh.

Manly are hoping to prove people wrong this year, and bounce back into the top eight after a disappointing 2020.

“We’re coming off a pretty ordinary year but we’re motivated to get back into the finals – everyone at this stage believes they’ve got a chance and we’re no different.

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“Every club at this time of year is really optimistic, and I believe we should be a finals side this year.”

Cherry-Evans said that while some people ignore outside criticism and season predictions, he uses it as fuel.

“Not everyone takes it too personally, but I like to look at it to motivate myself a bit.

“It’s not the reason why you play footy, but along the way it does keep you motivated and show people you’re better than what they think.”

Young Kiwi Morgan Harper could well be the club’s fullback for round one, after showing flashes of class against the Tigers in last weekend’s trial.

“He’s a genuine option to have at fullback, he’s trained there a fair bit in the pre-season. He’s just a natural footy player whether it’s centre or fullback, he just knows where to be and what to do,” Cherry-Evans said.

“We saw at the end of last year how good he can be so I’m sure we will again at some stage this year.”

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