Suddenly embattled Manly have a glimmer of fresh hope as Daly Cherry-Evans shows he intends to bow out on high note and talk emerges the Sea Eagles could make a play for Sam Burgess.
Defying claims of ill-feeling by teammates toward him and criticism of the process that has him defecting to Gold Coast next year, Cherry-Evans was the inspiration behind the Sea Eagles’ 24-22 win over Melbourne on Saturday night.
The creative halfback went to work, quietening critics as he laid on tries and Manly raced out to a 24-6 halftime lead.
With the controversy surrounding Cherry-Evans coupled with intense speculation that injured five-eighth Kieran Foran has also committed his future elsewhere, Manly had been expected to do it tough against Melbourne following their first round drubbing by Parramatta.
Instead, Manly fans were further buoyed on Sunday by a report that the club may use the big money set to become available to chase England superstar Sam Burgess for next season.
South Sydney’s 2014 grand final hero Burgess has yet to make any real mark in his code switch to rugby union back in England, with a 2015 Rugby World Cup berth looking unlikely.
And there’s no doubt Manly need more forward firepower following the loss of Glenn Stewart, Anthony Watmough and Jason King.
News Corp reported the Sea Eagles have spoken internally about luring Burgess to Brookvale.
South Sydney have first option on Burgess should he want an NRL return but they could struggle to fit him under the salary cap following their premiership success.
Manly have a handy connection through their CEO Joe Kelly, who knows Burgess from his time as South Sydney chief operating officer.
“If Sam was available and keen to come back to Australia, we would certainly have an interest in him,” Kelly told The Sunday Telegraph, while denying any approach had been made.
“We would like to open dialogue to tell him of the opportunities at Manly.”