Tom Trbojevic has received the backing of his coach after the superstar fullback was ruled out of the Sea Eagles' clash with Gold Coast. Trbojevic injured himself against the Tigers last week with fullback coming off with a groin injury.
The fullback only trained for the first time on Friday ahead of the game on Saturday, despite reports the 26-year-old would be fit to take part in the clash. However, the Blues star will sit out the round 9 game with the groin strain.
This will see Kaeo Weekes move to fullback. Concerns have been raised over Trbojevic's fitness since the beginning of the season.
Against the Panthers, the fullback struggled with a hip pointer injury. In the same game, Trbojevic battled back spasms.
Blues fans have questioned Trbojevic's fitness and whether Brad Fittler will pick the fullback in the team in his usual spot at centre. This comes as Rabbitohs duo Campbell Graham and Latrell Mitchell find form and offer another pairing as the two centres.
Following the fullback missing the game this weekend, Manly coach Anthony Seibold launched an impassioned defence of his star. The coach said comparisons were being made to Trbojevic's form in 2021 when he won the Dally M Medal, which was one of the best individual seasons in the game's history.
"We think he has had a really positive start to the year. He sits in the top 10 in the Dally M leaderboard, that says a fair bit," Seibold said.
"People have been speculating on whether he is playing good footy or isn't. But everyone compares Tom to that period in 2021 where he was scoring two or three tries a game and setting up two or three.
"That had never been seen before, and I'm not sure if it will be seen again."
Trbojevic has struggled for consistent game time in recent years, but Seibold was adamant when asked whether the club had covered up further injuries this year. "Silence is probably the best response to that," Seibold said. "We have never put a player out there who couldn't do the job."
Josh Schuster issue for Manly
Manly will, however, take a long-term approach with Josh Schuster. The five-eighth has been left out of the squad again having only played back-to-back matches once this season.
And coach Seibold said it was a collaborative decision to leave the youngster out to give him time to recover. "We need Josh at his best," Seibold said.
"This is an approach that was collaborate with the performance staff, medical staff, Josh and myself. He has to take ownership of the next few weeks and get through that criteria that is in place for him to tick off. And then we'll see him at some stage in first grade, I have no doubt, in the next couple of weeks."
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