Big changes are afoot at the Manly Sea Eagles, who today announced three new signings, a big-name re-signing, a high-profile release and a new CEO.
Veterans Feleti Mateo and Willie Mason will be at the club in 2015, as will rugged former Cronulla and Melbourne forward Siosaia Vave. Skipper Jamie Lyon has extended his current deal until the end of 2016, while Anthony Watmough has been granted an immediate release.
Joe Kelly, a former CFO and 2IC at South Sydney over the past eight seasons, has been appointed the Sea Eagles’ CEO in the wake of Dave Perry standing down from the general manager role.
Mateo was granted a release by the New Zealand Warriors to take up a two-year deal on Sydney’s northern beaches.
— Vodafone Warriors (@NZWarriors) October 28, 2014
The rangy backrower featured in grand finals with Parramatta (2009) and the Warriors (2011), and is recognised as one of the NRL’s most gifted engine-room ball-players and off-loaders. But the 183-game veteran is an undeniably enigmatic proposition, dropped to NSW Cup duty on multiple occasions in 2014 after struggling to find consistency.
Mateo will be under pressure to fill the void created by departing club great Watmough, who leaves – almost certainly to Parramatta – after 286 games for the Northern Eagles and Manly (where he played in 19 games or more in the last 12 seasons), featuring in four grand finals.
Cult figure Mason has earned a one-year deal at the age of 34, heading to his fifth NRL club as he looks to add to his tally of 271 games. The larger-than-life character has played some excellent football with Newcastle over the last three seasons, while he should contribute to some much-needed positive morale within a fractured Sea Eagles squad that has been bogged down by in-fighting in recent years.
Welcome to Silvertail country, big willie @mase21
— The Mole (@RLW_Mole) October 28, 2014
Vave is a handy pick-up, providing depth in a largely unheralded forward pack contingent. The Tongan international has racked up 54 NRL appearances in five seasons, spending two stints with the Sharks either side of a two-year stay with the Storm.
Lyon’s extension should take the skipper through to the end of his career – he will be almost 35 at the end of 2016. The 250-game, 100-try and 1500-point barriers for Manly are well within Lyon’s sights before he retires.
Following the departure of Watmough, Glenn Stewart and Jason King, 2015 shapes as a new era for Manly, but the club should be commended for their acquisition of adequate replacements – no mean feat at this late stage of the year, when few free agents remain on the market.
— League Unlimited NRL (@LeagueUnlimited) October 28, 2014
Credit: Rugby League Week