2022 Shute Shield Season Review: Manly

Manly were arguably the form team of the competition for the first half of the season but fell away as the finals approached.

2022 assistant coach Chris Delooze has recently been appointed head coach for 2023, replacing the QLD Reds-bound Phil Blake.

We caught up with Delooze to recap 2022 and look ahead to next season.

Overview with Chris Delooze:

“All in all it was a good season. We had a cracking start to the year but unfortunately we weren’t able to finish the season off as well as we would of liked,” the assistant coach told Rugby News.

“When planning preseason in late ‘21, the coaches, led by Phil Blake, sat down and set out what we wanted to achieve this year and we decided that one of our goals was to compete in every match. Be there in the end.

“Looking back at the season, aside from one big win, we won or lost every other match by a margin of eight points or less.

“We were right in every match this year, including the elimination semi-final that we lost to Eastwood after being agonisingly held up after 15 plus phases at the death. We fought hard”

“Towards the back end of the year, we lost quite a few tight matches and we’ve spent a lot of time reflecting over 2022 and some of the reasons behind that so we can reverse those results in 2023.

“It was pleasing to see some of the younger players that have come through our colts program have really successful years.

“Looking further abroad, we’ve also had Jack Walsh and Jed Walsh come through Manly’s colts and Juniors program and they’re both playing overseas. It’s a strong programme with a bright future.

“Then you’ve got Hunter Ward picking up an EDS contract with the Waratahs on the back of his strong form and obviously Langi Gleeson and Max Douglas doing so well. They’ve all come through our colts program in recent years and we think they’ve all got big careers ahead of them.

What needs to happen at the club between now and round one next year? 

“I know everyone at the club is working really hard both on and off the field to make sure the club is in a better place again at the end of next season.

“Our board is working really hard to ensure we have the resources and infrastructure we need to support our players.

“We’ve also just appointed a new strength and condition coach in Dave Kennett. A former Manly player with an exceptional CV having worked with the Cronulla Sharks, Manly Sea Eagles as well as head of Strength and Conditioning at Shore for 11 year.

“Without giving too much away, we’ve got a few ideas in and around what we’re trying to implement through individual athletic development that should translate into  our on field performance and game style. This is based on what we’ve learned after analysing the data from the 2022 season.

“At times we struggled to win the key moments in tight games, particularly towards the end of the year. We were also one of the most ill-disciplined sides in the competition, giving away too many points and too much field position, so they are a few things we’re looking to change.

Which of your players do you expect to go on to bigger things from next season?

“Like all coaches, I’d love all our boys to get a go but it was great to see a few of our guys that stood up and performed this year get an opportunity.

“I believe we have a number of players that have huge amounts of potential. If they can build consistency to their game, they could go on to play professional rugby, ideally within the Australian systems”.

“I would love to see Max Douglas perform really well over in Japan and then return to Australian rugby because as a genuine lock, I think he’s got so much potential and I believe he can go all the way with the likes of the Langi Gleeson’s of the world.

What can we expect in 2023 from Manly and the competition? 

“It’s going to be another interesting and exciting Shute Shield season and it will be intriguing to see how all the player recruitment and retention ends up across the competition.

“We’ve retained the vast majority of our players right across the club and we’re thrilled for the opportunity to build on the culture that Blakey helped create this year as there were some very positive foundations laid.

“For us, this year we wanted to compete in every match whereas the focus will certainly change moving forward. I’m excited by the continuity of the coaching staff and our squad and with the  inclusion of some very strong colts, I can’t wait for 2023.”