Tom Trbojevic had one of the greatest individual seasons footy has ever seen in 2021 – but a rule change could take the edge off the electric fullback’s game this season
- Sea Eagles star Tom Trbojevic, 25, was electrifying last season in the NRL
- Crowned Dally M Medallist after a year where he was unstoppable at times
- NRL season starts on Thursday night when Penrith host Manly from 8.05pm
Tom Trbojevic’s performances last season for the Manly Sea Eagles were virtually superhuman.
After missing the first five games with a hamstring injury, his return resulted in Des Hasler’s men shooting up the NRL ladder to become genuine premiership contenders.
The jaw-dropping statistics tell the story – 28 tries, 28 try assists, 124 tackle breaks and 33 line breaks from 18 games.
It was no surprise to see Trbojevic crowned the Dally M Medallist – he was comfortably the best player in the world in 2021.
His 28 tries included five hat-tricks as footy fans looked on in awe.
Manly fullback Tom Trbojevic lit up the NRL last season after missing the first five games with a hamstring injury
The 25-year-old scored 28 tries in 18 games to land the Dally M medal (pictured with girlfriend Kristi Wilkinson)
The 2022 NRL season begins on Thursday night when the Panthers host the Sea Eagles at Bluebet Stadium
While it wasn’t enough to get the Sea Eagles into the grand final, the 25-year-old confirmed his status as a genuine footy superstar.
The question now is – can Trbojevic scale even bigger heights in 2022?
The NRL slightly tweaked its rules in the off-season, with penalties to now be blown for offsides and ruck infringements when teams are coming out of their own end.
The change has experts fearing many games will be stop-start affairs that won’t suit electric players like the Sea Eagles fullback, who excels at taking advantage of tired defenders.
Trbojevic isn’t worried, however.
‘It will still be a quick game, but that (new rule) may slow it down a bit,’ he said.
‘It might just be a little bit more of limited opportunities, so when you get something you’ve just got to take it.’
The process starts on Thursday night when Trbojevic and his teammates travel to Bluebet Stadium in Sydney’s west to take on the Penrith Panthers.
Ivan Cleary’s reigning premiers have lost the likes of Matt Burton (Bulldogs), Paul Momirovski (Roosters) and Kurt Capewell (Broncos), but still loom as a premiership threat.
Clive Churchill medallist Nathan Cleary also won’t play following off-season shoulder surgery, and while the halfback will be sorely missed, you get the feeling the hosts will be primed to show they can win minus their talisman.
Quick stat: Penrith got the better of Manly twice last season, including a thumping 46-6 win at Sydney’s northern beaches on April 1.