Rugby league great Peter Sterling said that no single player is more important to their team than Tom Trbojevic is for Manly.

Rugby league great Peter Sterling said that no single player is more important to their team than Tom Trbojevic is for the Manly Sea Eagles.

The returning fullback showed no signs of rust in his first game of 2021, putting in a best on ground performance as the Sea Eagles destroyed the Gold Coast Titans.

“It blew me away, this one – I knew that Tom Trbojevic was going to make a difference to this Manly side … but he just came in seamlessly,” Sterling told Wide World of Sports’ Sterlo’s Wrap.

Sterling said that since the start of 2019, Manly had won three quarters of their games when Trbojevic had played, and just 46 per cent without.

“That’s a big gulf, isn’t it? Seventy-five (per cent) back to basically 45. The thing about Tommy is that he makes the other players around him just look so much better.

“Kieran Foran was superb. His brother, Jake, just looked so much more comfortable there.”

The former Eels halfback said the sensation that Manly players must feel when they see Trbojevic suiting up for a game mirrored when he saw Ray Price across from him in the Parramatta dressing room in the Eels’ 1980s glory days.

“When they look across and see Tommy there, they get exactly that same sensation, and he goes out there and they just look a much more confident football team.”

A frontrunner for the wooden spoon just a couple of weeks ago, Sterling said it was far more likely that Manly would end up contending for the last couple of finals spots than the unwanted cutlery.

“With him coming back can they make the top eight? I’m not entirely sure they have the side to do that, but all of a sudden they’re more in contention for 7th or 8th position – I don’t see them any higher than that, but I had a line through them,” Sterling said.

It’s clear that Trbojevic’s influence at Manly can’t be overstated, and Sterling believes that only Clint Gutherson at Parramatta can rival the Manly fullback in terms of a single player affecting the results of a team so much.

“I think he’s that important to Parramatta or close to … but I think it’s fair to say that Tommy Trbojevic out of Manly is probably more detrimental to that side than anybody else coming out of any of the other 15 teams.”

Manly will be looking for their third win in a row this weekend when they take on the Wests Tigers at Bankwest Stadium.

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