Manly are about to embark on a month-long period without their superstar fullback. History says times are about to get tough — but there is a way to get through it and it all depends on Tom Trbojevic’s replacement.
Meanwhile, the Tigers desperately need a win this week if they want to avoid an unwanted first.
Read on for Stat Attack — Round 5.
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TOUGH WITHOUT TOM
The news of Tom Trbojevic being out of the Manly side for up to six weeks no doubt sent shivers up many spines on the Northern Beaches as Manly are a completely different side with him in the side compared without.
Since 2019 Manly has won over 70 per cent of the matches ‘Turbo’ plays in and just a third of their games with him missing.
The swing in results is even more imposing if you look at where the Sea Eagles’ opponents manage to keep him “quiet” in relative terms to where he is able to run riot.
When Trbojevic runs for 150-plus metres Manly has won an impressive 23/24 matches since 2019 — that’s better than 95 per cent — while when making less than 150 metres or missing all together they have won just 18/53.
Des Hasler will be hoping rookie Tolutau Koula can have a big running game against the Knights.
No coach in the competition has a better record than Hasler since 2019 with their fullback running for 150 metres. Overall Hasler has won almost 82 per cent of games since returning to the Sea Eagles with his number one cracking 150 — they have won four of the nine games where Turbo’s replacement has managed 150 and just eight of 26 when they haven’t.
Ivan Cleary, Craig Bellamy and Trent Robinson are all at less than 80 per cent with their starting fullbacks making 150 plus metres since 2019
Newcastle has won all three games against Manly since Adam O’Brien took over as coach — he is the only coach Hasler has come up against in his career and has never beaten. The Knights haven’t won four straight against Manly since winning six straight from the 1997 GF until 2004 (excludes the Northern Eagles)
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HAVE THE TIGERS JUMPED THE SHARK?
The Sharks have burst from the blocks in 2022 and are chasing their fifth 4-1 start (or better) in the NRL Era — making the finals in all four previous occasions.
Their last time losing just one game through five matches came 14 seasons ago in 2008 with then coach Ricky Stuart guiding them to third position before an eventual preliminary final loss to the Storm.
Cronulla has a great recent record against Wests Tigers, winning seven of eight since 2015 —their best record against any opponent in this period.
The Tigers came heartbreakingly close to their first win of the season against the Titans last week and if they can’t bounce back with a win on Sunday their losing streak will have reached unwanted record levels.
Wests Tigers have never started a season 0-5 and the last time either Balmain or the Magpies went 0-5 was almost 30 years ago, by the Tigers in 1993 (Wests last time was in 1988).
A fifth loss to open the season would also be Wests Tigers’ eighth straight loss overall — a new club record.
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STAT OF THE WEEK – WASTED OPPORTUNITIES
Brisbane’s good start to the season seems to have dissolved in recent weeks and turning it around against the Roosters will no doubt be a tough proposition.
Their right-side combination of Kotoni Staggs and Selwyn Cobbo could prove a danger for the Roosters’ defensive line — but their ball-handling in the attacking 20 will no doubt need to improve as it has been far from optimal over the first four rounds.
Wasted opportunities (most errors in opp 20m)
Selwyn Cobbo – six errors
Kotoni Staggs – five errors
Chanel Harris-Tavita – four errors
Zac Lomax – four errors
Matt Burton – four errors
Chad Townsend – four errors