Anthony Seibold's telling confession amid calls to switch Tom Trbojevic away from fullback

Trbojevic's injury history has sparked calls for him to moved permanently into the centres.

Manly coach Anthony Seibold has made a telling admission about the possibility of switching superstar fullback Tom Trbojevic into the centres, when he makes his NRL return from injury. The Sea Eagles fullback is not expected back until round 18 after suffering the latest hamstring injury of his career in the round 10 defeat to the Dolphins.

Trbojevic has been plagued by various injuries over the course of his career and was ruled out of the majority of last season after suffering a torn pec while playing for NSW in Game II of the State of Origin series. The year before that he suffered a season-ending shoulder injury after a freak incident against the Eels. But it's Trbojevic's troublesome hamstrings that have caused him the most concern throughout the course of his career, with many analysts calling for Manly to shift him from fullback to centre to reduce the workload on the 27-year-old.

Manly coach Anthony Seibold admits a positional switch for Tom Trbojevic is something the NRL club have held discussions about. Pic: Getty
Manly coach Anthony Seibold admits a positional switch for Tom Trbojevic is something the NRL club have held discussions about. Pic: Getty

Manly have unearthed a promising young fullback in the form of Levi Hopoate, who has been handed the No.1 jersey ahead of teammate Tolu Koula and excelled in his two games at the back for the Sea Eagles. The way Hopoate has adapted to the rigours of the NRL in such a short space of time and in a key position will give Seibold plenty to think about. And Trbojevic's potential move to the centres could allow Reuben Garrick to shift back to the wing and shore up Manly's defence out wide - which has often been an area of concern for the Sea Eagles.

Speaking to 9News Sydney, Seibold said he's held discussions with Trbojevic about the possibility of a positional switch. But the Manly coach was quick to point out moving Manly's gun No.1 to centre isn't necessarily going to reduce the risk of him picking up muscle or soft tissue injuries.

"We've had a number of conversations about position," the Manly coach said. "Rather than just think about the change of position subjectively, we've had a really good objective look at the GPS data. What we've wanted to see is, what are the demands of a fullback and what are the demands of a centre?

"To be frank, from a data point of view, there's not a whole heap of difference. There's a little bit more change of pace as a fullback, but there's a lot more contact when you're playing centre. There's a number of things we need to consider and we've got a couple of weeks until we have to make that decision."

Seibold's comment about the change of pace for a fullback as opposed to a centre certainly backs up the argument that a positional switch would benefit a player who has a long history of hamstring injuries. Trbojevic is not expected to return until the round 18 clash against the Cowboys in what will be a huge boost for Manly's finals hopes. That means Hopoate looks set to have at least two more games to press his claims to keep the No.1 jersey long-term.

Pictured right is Manly NRL player Lehi Hopoate and Tom Trbojevic on the left.
Lehi Hopoate has done a solid job filling in at fullback for Manly while Tom Trbojevic has been sidelined with injury. Pic: Getty

Trbojevic has already proven himself at centre for the Blues, having starred in NSW's State of Origin series win in 2021 when he also claimed the Dally M Medal. Seibold says he still believes Trbojevic's best position is at fullback but admits his decision will be based on what is best for the club and the player.

"He's an elite player, so I don't want to make the decision solely," Seibold said. "We've been collaborating and communicating the whole time, but I want to do what's best for Turbo. If it's best to put him in the centres, that's what we will do - but I still think his best position is fullback."


League great Andrew Johns warned Seibold last month not to "overthink" the decision on Trbojevic and suggested he should stay at fullback, despite admitting that centre is a less demanding position. But Brad Fittler - who picked Trbojevic at centre during his reign as Blues State of Origin coach - backed calls for a positional switch and said the Manly star had already proven how good he can be in the role at centre.

"If you look at what we did in Origin, just play him at centre and then he comes in when he wants – he doesn't have to do as much," Fittler explained. "I don't know how many people you could do this with because he is very intelligent, (but tell him) 'mate, just go and chase the ball', and he will pick and choose his times. It was incredible. He scored tries next to Latrell on the left."