Only a few days out from their fist hit out of the season I felt itÃ¢Â€Â™s a good time to preview those in the maroon and white or should that be green and white? In the first trial against last years grand finalists the boys will wear a green and white jersey to help promote green power and environmental awareness. A great initiative that will hopefully also attract the luck of the Irish, which after all you could easily feel you were watching. Both teams will be trialling superstar centres in the role of 5/8. Will one or both succeed? Only time will tell however do not expect answers to come from this trial, like always just expect more questions. This year we see Manly field a backline of talent that has not been seen since the mid 90Ã¢Â€Â™s team, 2 Internationals, 1 State of Origin, 2 City/Country, 1 junior Kangaroo and Robbo make up one of the more potent backlines in the competition. However they have lost the cornerstone of their forward pack and 2006 captain in Ben Kennedy. How they cope with his loss is the main question on everybodyÃ¢Â€Â™s lips. Will new captian Matt Orford be able to rally the troops? Will Orford take another half season to gel with Lyon should be play 5/8? Will there be a suitable replacement in the back row? One things for sure, there are plenty of hands in the air willing to try, something we havenÃ¢Â€Â™t seen since the 90Ã¢Â€Â™s team as well. Names like Stewart, Afamasaga, Wells, Cuthbertson are all there, ready to make this spot their own. In the last 2 years we have seen 2 props stand up and embed themselves in the starting 17, in 2005, Bryant showed enough to get himself a start in 2006 where he cemented his spot, then came along Big George Ã¢Â€Â“ a crowd favourite over night George Rose steamrolled his way into the starting 17 for last latter part of 2006. After an off season of shedding useless fat and gaining muscle one can only hope he can provide the much needed impact off the bench. The other two props speak for themselves, 1 who is playing for Australia and one who should be pushing for it. Kite finished 2006 like a racehorse and with any luck will pick up where he left off in 2007. King improved in 2006 but we need to see the same again. Another off season started by foot surgery we hope that it will be the last of the problems associated in that area and we can see the bloke who played a few years ago. Finally there is the hooking spot Ã¢Â€Â“ how times have changed. 2 years ago we had to put up with blind side run after blind side run from the Chad, now we have choice and a lot of it. Firstly last years starting hooker, Mick Monaghan, he is solid, very good long kicker and good defender who keeps the centre tight in the first 20. Last year he connected better with Orford allowing for a smoother attack which, like the defence lost fluency when Dunley took the field. DunnerÃ¢Â€Â™s has an explosive run that can only be matched by his temper. In 2007 it appears that Travis Burns may well be looking at a hooking role. Having played 5/8 outside Orford he may have to make way for a big time singing, the same switch Monas made a year earlier. With more skills than Dunley and similar aggression he seems like the perfect replacement to keep the sting on the bench. That is until you look into Premier League. Matt Ballin is the only genuine hooker at the club, tops the fitness tests and had a good first grade trial in 2006. At 23 and off contract its now or never as far as he and the Eagles are concerned. A good defender with a crisp pass and good speed off the mark he has the all round game and fitness to become a good 80 minutes first grade hooker, the question is will he get his chance. Now a more in depth look at some of the premier league players likely to push for a spot in the next year or two. Forwards Jack Afamasaga. Jack comes to us like plenty before him from the Eels. He grew up playing in New Zealand and was when younger spoken about in the same sentence as SBW. His time at Parramatta has been riddled with injuries and so far his footballing life has been well bellow his potential. The hope is that like BK before him he can overcome the injuries and play to his full ability, a hard running back rower with good hands. Look for jack to be the big improver at the club. Jason Wells Came to Manly last year from the bulldogs. Jason has very good ball skills and is a lock in the mould of Kosef. After a solid year in PL he has been bulking up to get the penetration in attack that he will need for first grade and will be jumping at the opportunity to crack it. Adam Cuthbertson A local junior, Cuthbo got a taste of first grade with 4 games in 2006. Playing out of position as a prop he looked to be trying a bit hard resulting in a lot of dropped ball. One can only hope he gets another go this year in his more suited Second row. He is a hard running hard tackling second rowers with a good right hand offload. After 2 stand out years in Premier league and a taste of first grade donÃ¢Â€Â™t be surprised to see him step up on 2007. Glenn Stewart Brother of Brett, Glenn has had a good taste of first grade. Playing a similar game to Willo, Glenn will tackle anything that runs at him. His attack lacked penetration (no worse than Willo) but after an off season to work on it you would expect an improvement in 2007. To be frank he is a younger fitter version of Willo with more potential in attack. Expect to see a lot of Glenn in first grade this year and with 19 games under his belt he is well aware of what it takes. Glenn Hall A journeyman prop, Hall has made a bold move and turned down a 2 year contract backing himself to be good enough to warrant an upgrade for 2008. Hall is 26 in 2007, around the age that most props start to really hit their peak, he has played 29 first grade games and will provide some depth for injuries and KiteÃ¢Â€Â™s rep duties. Sione Finefeuiaki As wide as they come this man can run over the top of the best defender. An improvement in fitness and lateral defence may see him pushing for a first grade birth should enough other be unavailable but donÃ¢Â€Â™t expect to see much of him. Matt Ballin A complete all-round hooker who has been a constant performer in premier league. Ballin is a strong defender, gets the ball out quickly and can get off the mark with enough speed and strength to break the line. His performance in the roosters trial of 2006 warranted another chance in firsts but that was not to be. This year he has recorder the highest beep test at the club and his performance off the field is certainly first grade standard. If he can perform on the field in the trials he must get a chance to prove himself in first grade this year, otherwise expect him to walk. Michael Bani A speedster direct from Cairns and the Queensland cup this kid has plenty of talent. Its just finding the right headspace that the problem. He plays fullback and winger and knows his way to the try line. May well get a run in first if injuries hit, a real uknown. The premier league team has also had an influx from the Flegg boys who, since they started together in Harold Mathews have not missed the semi finals. Young half Aaron Groom is probably the best talent coming through the ranks, he will certainly be a handful for the opposition, at 19 he is all set to take over from Orford in 3 years time. Along side him will be Chris Trembath a big , hard running prop that at this stage looks the goods. Backing him up in the forwards is the other redhead, Mark Offerdahl. A classy back rower who has played plenty or junior rep footy over the last few years. Add Sam Key and Jono Grieve to that list as well as new recruit Shane Neumann and the Premier League squad looks full of talent and well worth getting down to the ground a couple of hours early when possible. Expect to see a few of these guys pushing for spots over the next few years. So where does that leave the team as a whole? Well a stronger backline than 2006, weaker forwards and improved depth. Melbourne and the Tigers have both made the grand finals without the best forward packs but a very good backline, this year Manly will try the same. With the amount of depth available the main question will be will Des drop underperformers? Needless to say I canÃ¢Â€Â™t wait to find out.