Manly are concerned about their NRL front-row stocks for next season, but have been boosted by star winger David Williams agreeing to terms.
Manly are confident they’ve nailed down The Wolfman David Williams for another season, but front row is the major concern for coach Geoff Toovey as he looks to replace 661 games of NRL experience.
Veteran props Brent Kite, Joe Galuvao and George Rose have all departed the northern beaches, leaving the Sea Eagles’ engine room particularly light on up front.
Manly are relying heavily on the leadership of co-captain Jason King, but the former NSW prop is still yet to return to full training from a serious shoulder injury which some speculated would end his career.
King has had his past two seasons significantly curtailed by pectoral and shoulder problems so Manly must ensure there’s sufficient depth in the bookend department to get them through the season.
Richie Fa’aoso faces an uncertain future due to injury and off-field problems, but Toovey is confident Manly can step up to the challenge of maintaining their reputed front-row strength.
The club has been boosted by news they’ve finally reached an agreement with winger Williams for 2014, but Toovey admits the health of King is vital for the fortunes of the losing grand finalists.
“He is. A lot of game experience has gone missing, and Jason, although he missed most of the year, will be an important figure in our forward pack for next year,” he said.
“He’s progressing well … we’re hoping after Christmas he’ll be cleared for full contact and be able to rip in.
“We’re quietly confident things will be ok (with Fa’aoso). He’s had a tough year … but hopefully he’ll be right to train early January.”
Toovey is excited about Brisbane recruit Dunamis Lui making his mark in the front-row rotation.
Lui, 23, served his apprenticeship under the likes of Petero Civoniceva, Ben Hannant, Corey Parker and Sam Thaiday, but ankle and knee injuries held him back.
“I learnt a lot from them, just the workload they put in every week,” he said.
“The opportunity Manly gave me to be part of that top-four front row, I couldn’t go past that. I’ll be pushing extra hard. It was emotional for me to leave the Broncos but it was a decision I had to make.”