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Tightknit Sea Eagles building success

Manly five-eighth Kieran Foran points to the closeness of the Sea Eagles group as the key to the NRL club defying the trend of the salary cap era to maintain the core of their NRL premiership-winning teams.
Tightknit Sea Eagles building success
by AAP

By Steve Jancetic

SYDNEY, Oct 1 AAP - Manly five-eighth Kieran Foran points to the closeness of the Sea Eagles group as the key to the NRL club defying the trend of the salary cap era to maintain the core of their NRL premiership-winning teams.

Entering their fourth grand final in seven seasons, the Sea Eagles have developed a dynasty the envy of the league - a run of success built on the back of a squad which has undergone minimal disruption.

The common perception in the league has been that success breeds change - with NRL rivals picking apart premiership teams piece by piece.

But of the side that will take on Sydney Roosters in Sunday's grand final, six players - the Stewart brothers Brett and Glenn, centres Steve Matai and Jamie Lyon, back-rower Anthony Watmough and departing prop Brent Kite will all be playing in their fourth grand final for the club.

Hooker Matt Ballin will be playing his third decider while only injury prevented David Williams and George Rose having more than one grand final appearance to their name.

Then there's the youthful halves combination of Foran and Daly Cherry-Evans, who have both spoken about the prospect of forming an alliance in the maroon and white for the next decade - provided they can resist the big money offers which will undoubtedly be thrown their way.

It's a temptation Sea Eagles management has so far largely been able to ward off - the likes of Will Hopoate, Tony Williams and a then-budding superstar Jared Waerea-Hargreaves the only departures Manly officials would rather have avoided.

"I can only put it down to the fact this is such a tight club," Foran told AAP.

"It's the only club I've ever played at so I don't know any better, but blokes that come here from other clubs say they've never experienced anything like it.

"Blokes don't want to leave - the only way they leave is if they have to leave - otherwise blokes just want to stay here.

"We're all best of mates, we love playing with each other."

Off-season addition Justin Horo, who joined the Sea Eagles from Parramatta, noticed the tightness of the group almost immediately.

"It took me only a couple of weeks into the pre-season (to see it)," he said.

"Training was really competitive, there was a lot of positive talk."

But while the core group has been the bedrock of Manly's success, coach Geoff Toovey said the impact of his new recruits could not be underestimated.

Just as Joe Galuvao did with the 2011 premiership-winning team, the Sea Eagles have brought in a group of NRL cast-offs to solidify the side.

"You'll see most of the clubs that are successful have that core group of blokes," Toovey said.

"The big thing for us has been the blokes that have come in this year - (front-rower) Brenton Lawrence has probably been the buy of the year.

"We lost a few players last year but replaced them with you could say lesser known players - Brenton, Richie Fa'aoso even though he's (broken) his neck, Tommy Symonds came on board, Justin Horo.

"They've all made a fist of it and are loving it and are an important part of the team."


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