Our red-hot recruits Jason Avedissian 5 January 2008 http://manlydaily.com.au/article/200...90_sports.html ONE of the game's leading judges of talent is convinced key Manly recruits for 2008 will make a successful transition to their new club this year when the Sea Eagles aim to go one better. Noel "Crusher" Cleal has cast his eyes over Manly's integral signings for this year as the club resumes pre-season training at Narrabeen on Monday. Cleal has identified Josh Perry, Heath L'Estrange, David Vaeliki and young gun Jared Waerea-Hargreaves as more-than-handy recruits for the new season. And it appears the most intriguing battle will be up front with both Perry and ex-Rooster L'Estrange facing stiff opposition to win a starting jumper. "We've got some good front-rowers in the joint," Cleal said. "Josh's been a former State of Origin player and has won a premiership. "It's been a bit of a dry spell (for him) and he's come here with a purpose." So too has L'Estrange who, after finishing the season in the top grade at the Roosters, will have an almighty tussle with Matt Ballin to secure the vacant Sea Eagles No 9 jumper. "I've seen Heathy play Harold Matthews for Parramatta a year young, when he was a 15- year-old, so I've known him for a long time," Cleal said. "I know his qualities and he is a tenacious, tough little character. "He's got a battle on his hands with Matty Ballin and it's going to be interesting to see who wins the battle." The heat will also be on Vaeliki who joins the Sea Eagles with some injury clouds over him. A cloud Cleal believes will clear-up under Manly's highly-rated medical team. "Have a look at Ben Kennedy," Cleal noted. "Two seasons before he come down here he played a handful of games, and then he came down here and played 30 odd games in two seasons. "So unless it's major injuries all the time, they're all part of the game, so I think we'll manage them." Cleal also believes 18-year-old Waerea-Hargreaves will manage after making the switch to league from the Waratahs at the end of 2007. "We are really excited about his prospects," Cleal said. "Maybe he'll need a year (to break through) but we've got the national 20s competition and maybe he can learn his trade there initially. If he's good enough, he'll push through." How Crusher sees the new boys Josh Perry Age: 26 Position: prop NRL games: 142 Recruited from: Newcastle NRL debut: 2000 - Training outstanding - Will add another dimension to our team - Respected, proven can play rep Heath L'Estrange Age: 22 Position: hooker NRL games: 29 Recruited from: Roosters NRL debut: 2004 - Tenacious, tough - Will battle with Matt Balin for run-on position David Vaeliki Age: 27 Position: utility back NRL games: 93 Recruited from: Wigan (UK) NRL debut: 1999 - competent and versatile - big game experience - strong games for Wigan Jared Waerea-Hargreaves Age: 18 Position: Lock NRL games: 0 Recruited from rugby union - NSW Waratahs - big and strong - good skills - development potential for Manly future --------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Eagle eye on players Jason Avedissian 5 January 2008 http://manlydaily.com.au/article/200...93_sports.html MANLY coach Des Hasler has radically turned to the latest piece of digital surveillance technology in the club's bid to win this year's NRL premiership. The Sea Eagles have installed a wireless live camera at their training headquarters in Narrabeen. The camera, controlled by a joystick on the ground, can zoom in on players and follow their movements. What makes the equipment unique is that the footage will then be instantly analysed with the player, via a lap-top on the training grounds. The Sea Eagles will be the first club in the NRL to use the revolutionary surveillance camera which is believed to be used only by some American NFL clubs. "I'm delighted that our off-field technical staff, Will Badel and Sportsdata, have been able to fine tune another system which will enable the coaching staff to closely monitor all training sessions," Hasler said yesterday. "The aid will be most advantageous in pin-pointing to players their training performances." Images can also be remotely recorded, accessed and evaluated from anywhere in the world. The Sea Eagles installed the Australian-made camera before Christmas and will start using it when pre-season training recommences on Monday. The Cronulla Sharks will adopt the technology later this month with premiers Melbourne likely to hook up before the premier- ship starts. Manly CEO Grant Mayer said the innovation proved the Sea Eagles were always staying "one step ahead of our opposition". "It's a tribute to Des and his staff," Mayer said. "This is truly ground-breaking and I'm sure the rest of the NRL will take some interest." Manly will also consider installing a camera at Brookvale Oval, pending ground funding. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Centennial season set to deliver surprises Zorba 5 January 2008 http://manlydaily.com.au/article/200...91_sports.html THE 100th year of rugby league will provide a holy grail worth spilling blood for in the upcoming NRL premiership battle. The path to glory starts in earnest on Monday when teams return after their Christmas break. They will undergo six weeks of intense power training in the lead-up to the official trials in mid-February. The premiership kicks off on March 14. The season will start for Manly at Brookvale Oval on Saturday, March 15, against the side I predict will be one of the big improvers in 2008 the Cronulla Sharks. The Sharks will mix skill and toughness under Test coach Ricky Stuart and can be considered a definite top-eight prospect. My fearless predictions for the 2008 season are: TOP 8: Storm, Sea Eagles, Cowboys, Eels, Roosters, Sharks, Dragons, Rabbitohs. WOODEN SPOON: Newcastle. DARK HORSE: Cronulla Sharks. FIRST COACH UNDER THREAT: Brian Smith, Newcastle Knights. COACHING HOLIDAY OVER: Brad Fittler, Sydney Roosters. SLIPPERY DIP DOWN LADDER: Brisbane Broncos. WORLD CLUB CHALLENGE: Melbourne Storm to beat Leeds Rhinos (February). ONE FOR THE ROAD: Wayne Bennett and the Brisbane Broncos to finally part company at the end of the season. THERE is much to look forward to in 2008 at Manly. New test fullback Brett Stewart is determined to keep his green and gold jersey for the World Cup on home soil. Stewart needs just 12 games for his 100 at Manly and his 70 tries in 88 games has him just a meat pie short of Graham Eadie's 71 tries in 237 games. Expect a battle royal between Matt Ballin and Heath L'Estrange for Michael Monaghan's vacant number nine jersey. Ballin has earned his chance but L'Estrange has impressed everyone with his approach to training and has fitted in well to the Manly system. Flying winger Michael Bani looks bigger and stronger as he prepares for a crack at a regular wing spot on the end of an exciting backline. Bani looked sensational in his finals appearance against the Cowboys last season and could quickly become a personality player. The late pick up of class three-quarter David Vaealiki will be a winner for the Sea Eagles. The ex-Parramatta, Wigan and Kiwi international can handle wing, centre or fullback and will be a valuable utility for the Sea Eagles. He will prove a valuable player in a long season. Vaealiki has come to Manly for the right reasons after having purchased property at Newport several years ago. Despite twisting an ankle at training before Christmas, big Josh Perry is looking awesome. The former State of Origin prop is enjoying the change of environment from Newcastle, where he has played all his first-grade games until now. Perry will add more grunt up front to an already impressive set of big boppers. One player who has stood out in the tough off season training is Jamie Lyon. Lyon has enjoyed his first break in a few years and is looking particularly strong and fresh at summer training. And the Beaver report? Nothing has changed since the mid 90s - the old bloke is still cruising.