Manly Warringah Sea Eagles Coach Trent Barrett has reduced his squad to 19 players for the opening round clash against Newcastle Knights on Friday night.
Half Jackson Hastings and second-rower Jack Gosiewski were named in the 21-man squad on Tuesday, but will now line up for Blacktown Workers Sea Eagles team in the Intrust Super Premiership match against the Knights prior to the NRL clash.
For Manly, new five-eighth Lachlan Croker (pictured) and second-rower Joel Thompson will make their club debuts against a new look Knights side.
In doing so, Croker will become the 600th player and Thompson, the 601st player, to play first grade for the Sea Eagles since the club’s inception in 1947.
Plenty has been written over summer as to how Croker would partner with half-back Daly Cherry-Evans after replacing former number six Blake Green.
“Lachlan Croker’s a completely different player to Blake Green,’’ Barrett said today.
“Cherry’s role in the team won’t change too much. We don’t rely on one player too much to get us around the field, everyone’s got a job to do.
“He and Cherry get along particularly well and the spine’s looked really settled. I certainly don’t see any teething problems there.”
The match also marks the first return to Newcastle for former Knights winger, Akuila Uate, since he joined the Sea Eagles last year.
Uate, who returned to his best form in scoring 14 tries in 24 games last season, said he was excited about playing in front of the vocal Knights crowd.
“I’ll cop it maybe when I run out for the warm up. That’s how it is,’’ Uate said, with a smile.
“I’ve been playing up there for ages now and I’m used to the crowd, it’s all good.
“This time will be different, playing for a different team.
“I know how to shut them down and worry about what I want to do best on the field.”
The final 17-man team to play Newcastle will be announced at 5pm tomorrow.
Newcastle v Manly History
Head to head: Played 48, Manly 31, Newcastle 17
At McDonald Jones Stadium: Played 21, Newcastle 12, Manly 9.
Past 8 clashes: Manly 7, Newcastle 1
Sea Eagles team (two to be omitted)
1 Tom Trbojevic
2 Jorge Taufua
3 Matthew Wright
4 Brian Kelly
5 Akuila Uate
6 Lachlan Croker
7 Daly Cherry-Evans (C)
8 Addin Fonua-Blake
9 Api Koroisau
10 Martin Taupau
11 Joel Thompson
12 Curtis Sironen
13 Jake Trbojevic
14 Lewis Brown
15 Shaun Lane
16 Frank Winterstein
17 Kelepi Tanginoa
18 Brad Parker
21 Lloyd Perrett