Cherry-Evans key as Sea Eagles look to open account
MANLY can take some unexpected pressure off rookie Trent Barrett - whose NRL coaching career has got off to the worst possible start - with a breakthrough win over Cronulla at Brookvale Oval tonight.
The Sea Eagles, though, will have to open their 2016 account without star fullback Brett Stewart, whose ongoing hamstring issues are now becoming more worrying by the week.
Manly will need to meet an aggressive Sharks pack which has been very good - even without injured skipper Paul Gallen - head on in the middle to have a shot at picking up their first two points.
Cronulla has been impressive in attack and also in defence and will not be intimidated by the trip to Brookvale in its current form.
Young Tom Trbojevic will again wear Stewart's No.1 jumper for the home side and with each game he gets more used to Manly's new-look roster. The Sharks have made one minor change to the side that took care of the Dragons, with Chris Heighington returning from suspension. Joseph Paulo has been named on a five-man bench.
Barrett can no longer excuse the newness of his team for Manly's failure to produce an improved showing with so many quality players in its side.
Halfback Daly Cherry-Evans will be critical to the result, while skipper Jamie Lyon needs to get more involved and forward recruit Martin Taupau will have to be at his aggressive best.
Cronulla has to overcome a poor Brookvale Oval record of 1-9 with their last win at the ground in 2008.