Manly looked a completely different beast with Trbojevic back on deck. Both Hasler and Cherry-Evans said it after the match. It’s not just his running game and defensive reads that takes them to the next level, it’s the fearlessness he instills in those around him.
“He played really well, really strong. It’s not just his play, it’s the confidence he brings to the players around him. We’re fortunate enough Tom is playing at Manly,” Hasler said.
Cherry-Evans was the main beneficiary, although the two bounced off each other perfectly all afternoon. They grew in daring with every Warriors missed tackle. And there were plenty of those, 41 by the time the siren mercifully sounded.
“He brings a lot of confidence to the players around him. He’s young, he’s great to play alongside because he encourages you to play your best football. He brings a lot,” Cherry-Evans said of Trbojevic, whom he stands to face off against in Origin later this year.
Manly have a good record against the Warriors in New Zealand but had to earn it in stages on Saturday. They were down 6-0 early and resuming in the second half, had to hold out for four sets on their own line.
But with Issac Luke missing the second half through injury, the Warriors had neither the class or composure to really make things happen, instead relying on bulk offloads and wishful runs from Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, who broke a few sets of ankles but couldn’t lift his side from the doldrums.
They have leaked excessive points now in two straight weeks after an encouraging start in round one with a win over the Bulldogs, a form line that ultimately hasn’t proven to be especially strong.
Warriors coach Stephen Kearney appeared downtrodden after the match. The week had been emotional, with both sides giving back to a community deeply shocked and saddened by the terror attack that left 50 dead.
There wasn’t a lot to like and while he resisted saying there would be changes, he appears to have little choice but to tinker with his line-up.
“Very disappointed. Given the situation on the back of last week and the circumstance of the game, I was very disappointed with the effort,” Kearney said. “Defensively, we allowed them too much yardage to get upfield.”
Kearney was critical of their patience and lack of willingness to stick to their plans. It’s not a new criticism of the Warriors, which probably makes it all the more frustrating for their coach.
“We need to stick at our process and stick at it. It was very disappointing, some of the defensive efforts out there. There’s a lack of resilience at the moment, which is an area of concern for us.”
The Warriors host the Titans at Mt Smart in round four while Manly face a sterner test against the Rabbitohs.