Inside Manly’s bizarre kicking duel tactic

Reuben Garrick was involved in one of the most bizarre plays of the year in 2023. Picture: NRL Photos
Reuben Garrick was involved in one of the most bizarre plays of the year in 2023. Picture: NRL Photos

Sea Eagles star Reuben Garrick has lifted the lid on his side’s infamous kicking duel with the Panthers last year, with quirky tactics on the cards for Saturday’s clash with the premiers as they look to unsettle the best team of the modern era.

It’s virtually impossible for most teams to beat the Panthers using conventional tactics, which is why Sea Eagles coach Anthony Seibold unapologetically tried something different in a game they ultimately lost 24-12 at home.

Missing Tom Trbojevic and needing a miracle to stay in the finals race, the Sea Eagles revived a play from yesteryear when Garrick received a kick on his own 10m line and hoofed it back downfield on the zero tackle.

The kick could have gone out for a 20/40, it could have found speedster Jason Saab, or it could have pinned the Panthers and forced their forwards to turn around and get back onside.

Instead, Penrith’s backline clicked into gear and Sunia Turuva returned the bold kick for a try to break the 12-all deadlock five minutes into the second half.

“I’ll blame (former assistant coach) Shane Flanagan. It was all his idea,” Garrick revealed ahead of Saturday’s clash.

“We were speaking about trying to break the pattern of the game. It was sort of going back and forth, and there was a bit of fatigue in the game.

“(The idea was) to pull that out and get their forwards to have to turn around again and hopefully pin him down on their line again so they had to ruck it out for another whole set. Then hopefully that can shock them.

“But it went belly up pretty quickly. That was the method behind it, but I guess we can throw Flanno under the bus now, he’s not here.”

Garrick wouldn’t reveal whether similar tactics would be employed this time around, although Manly’s desire to spread the ball early will be tested with Sydney set to cop heavy rain this weekend.

NRL Rd 4 -  Dragons v Sea Eagles
The Sea Eagles were very poor against the Dragons last week. Picture: Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images

“I think the way we played did (disrupt them) but it came off the back of the fact we definitely showed up and we were running hard and fighting to play the ball,” he said, with the Sea Eagles looking to atone following their dreadful loss to the Dragons.

“We tackled them hard and all that sort of thing. That side of the footy, it comes off the back of doing all the little things right first.

“As you saw on the weekend, we didn’t do that, so then we couldn’t play the style we wanted to. It goes hand-in-hand with doing the effort areas and the small things right first. That’s something we’re definitely focusing on.

“We’ve just got to worry about ourselves first. After the weekend, how we played, the first thing we’ve got to worry about is putting our best performance forward.

“I’m not going to go into the tactics of this weekend too much. But a lot of the things are about us and how we show up this weekend after last weekend. That was a poor effort.”