Brad Fittler believes Tom Trbojevic’s late-night sprint loss to ‘Harry’ on Manly’s Corso in February has played a big part in sparking his recent red-hot form and tag as the best player in the NRL.
The Sea Eagles fullback has been unstoppable for the past few months, carving it up in the NRL to steer Manly to fifth on the ladder and also being awarded the Wally Lewis Medal as the best player in this year’s State of Origin series.
And remarkably, he’s the favourite to win the Dally M Medal despite missing the first five games of the season with another hamstring injury.
Trbojevic was sidelined for large chunks of the 2019 and 2020 seasons due to injury, and mostly it was his hamstrings letting him down.
So Sea Eagles fans were distraught when the club announced in the off-season that Trbojevic would miss the start of the season because he’d torn his hamstring by slipping in the shower.
Not everyone was buying it when a video emerged of Turbo being beaten by a guy called Harry in a night-time sprint.
Regardless, Fittler thinks Harry can probably take some of the credit for Trbojevic’s stunning form since his return to the field in mid-April as he made huge improvements physically.
“I tell you what’s helped him,” he said on Wide World of Sports’ Freddy and The Eighth.
“The incident at Manly at the start of the season. You should see what kind of shape he’s in at the moment. He’s a weapon. He’s so much stronger than I’ve ever seen him.
“He’s a different beast at the moment. He’s focused, training hard.”
A Trbojevic masterclass on Monday night steered Manly to a 40-22 win over Cronulla in a performance that included a Turbo hat-trick in just 10 minutes after halftime.
His stats were extraordinary: three tries, three try assists, 217 run metres, 14 tackle breaks, three line breaks and four line break assists.
“He’s from another planet,” said Andrew Johns.
“I sat back the other night and said: ‘This bloke is from another planet’.”
Johns is adamant Trbojevic will claim the Dally M, while Fittler sees Cody Walker and Nathan Cleary, who is close to a comeback from a shoulder injury, as the only threats to Turbo.
And with Trbojevic leading the charge as Manly eye a top-four finish with five regular season games remaining, Johns believes the Sea Eagles can stop Melbourne’s incredible 16-match winning streak in the blockbuster match-up this Saturday.
Tune into the Sea Eagles v Storm clash this Saturday live and free on Nine from 7pm (AEST)!
Most importantly, they can trouble defences all over the park, according to Johns.
“To beat Melbourne you need to move the ball,” he said.
“You need to be unorthodox. You need to move the ball. You need to disrupt them.
“If you (produce) set plays, they just eat you up. And Manly have pockets of attack. On the left side they’ve got (Josh) Schuster and (Kieran) Foran working together. Around the middle they’ve got all those big guys and Jake Trbjovic scheming.
“Then on the right side DCE and Morgan Harper are combining with (Haumole) Olakau’atu. Geez I love him as a player. So I think Manly win just because of their pockets of attack, and they’ve got great confidence and in great form.”
For a daily dose of the best of the breaking news and exclusive content from Wide World of Sports, subscribe to our newsletter by clicking here!