James Tedesco has a mortgage on the NSW No. 1 jersey, but Michael Ennis has made the sensational claim that Tom Trbojevic should be the Blues fullback after Turbo inspired Manly to another huge win over the Wests Tigers.
His return from a hamstring injury in Mudgee last week went better than anyone could have hoped, and if his performance against the Tigers is anything to go by, he could be in career-best form by the time the sides are picked.
“Does he fall into the conversation of fullback for NSW?” Ennis asked in Fox League’s commentary.
“I know that he plays centre so well, but with the new modern game and the rules, his physical presence, his ball-playing ability and his effort … he is without doubt one of the best fullbacks in the competition.
“His form the last two weeks takes him to the top of the list. His last two performances are as good as I’ve ever seen from a fullback.
“From the moment Tom injected himself into the game, he has single-handedly blown the Wests Tigers apart.”
Trbojevic finished with a try, three assists and a game-high 191 metres as Manly piled on 40 unanswered points before he was given a well-deserved early mark.
The Tigers have sunk to a sad, new low after losing six of their first seven games in 2021 — making this their worst start to a season in their 22-year history.
Wests had jumped out to an early 6-0 and thought they’d moved further ahead when David Nofoaluma crossed, but the game turned on its head when his try was overruled for obstruction as Trbojevic then went wild.
It took a minute for the Sea Eagles to make them pay when Daly Cherry-Evans backed up a Josh Schuster break to score the first of his two tries, before Turbo took control of the contest.
From the very next set, the superstar fullback broke through some awful defence to set up his skipper, and he was at it again 60 seconds later when he raced into the backfield to set up Cherry-Evans for what should have been his hat-trick, only for the halfback to unselfishly tip it on to a flying Martin Taupau.
Not content with just setting them up, the gun No. 1 grabbed a try of his own early in the second half to turn a handy cushion into a certain two competition points before he capped his stunning day with another assist for Reuben Garrick to score.
‘Tommy Turbo’ terrorised the Tigers.Source:Getty Images
While Tom makes everyone around him better, no one has benefited more than Cherry-Evans who is playing with a freedom that eluded him in the opening half.
By his own admission, the Sea Eagles skipper struggled for form as Manly were lapped by the competition’s heavyweights, but he looks like a different player with Trbojevic back in the side.
Cherry-Evans scored two tries, set up another two – including one for halves partner Kieran Foran – and nailed a 40/20 in his best performance of the season as the Sea Eagles picked apart the Tigers with worrying ease.
There were positive signs last week for the Tigers when they took it to the Rabbitohs, but those credits are well and truly gone after dishing out another dreadful 80 minutes at Bankwest Stadium.
They started the game well and completed 20/21 sets in the first half, but things became embarrassing as their defence had no answers for Manly’s hard running and slick ball movement.
It’s not like they spent the afternoon defending their line. They had plenty of ball in the second half but produced cold drops and loose passes every time they were in the red zone.
Michael Maguire must consider sweeping changes after they lost their sixth game from seven starts, and now is the time to reward the reserve grade side who are flying high near the top of the table.
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