The NSW Blues have been named for the first game of the 2017 #Origin series.
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Having been involved with the game for a long time Manly coach Des Hasler would realise that professional rugby league is the meshing together of two completely different competitions; the one played out with pigskin on the paddock and the one played out by the blazers in the boardroom. Currently Hasler has his football team hitting peak form in one of these areas but has found himself frustrated, perhaps to door-breaking point, with the other.
After seeing out the most turbulent decade in the clubs history with a grand final win Hasler and his high flying Eagles are finding themselves hamstrung by the antiquated amenities at the fearsome fortress Brookvale oval. Whilst the fans may still enjoy sunny afternoons on the hill and the ground is a great test for visiting teams the venue is stopping the riches to flowing to the Northern Beaches like they should be following Manly's revival.
All levels of government have to this point treated Brookvale Oval like a sandcastle on Manly beach facing an incoming tide, choosing to whack on a bit more sand here and there rather rebuild afresh up the beach. The result has become much like a crack commando outfit trying to operate out of an old scout hall; sure professionals will still get the job done but it's hard to maintain professionalism when half the toilets in the place don't work and you can't get a decent feed.
If one were to follow the US school of Sports administration the simple answer would be for the Sea Eagles to pack up their nest and move to an area more willing to provide a stadium befit of a modern professional football side. Unfortunately for them however the nearest modern stadium currently vacant happens to be in Gosford and, well, they might want to wait at least another 40 years before trying that trick again.
But back to Manly. So far the plans released for a make-over of Brookvale have been as underwhelming as last year's Grand Final entertainment with the plan looking a better fit for the Forestville Ferrets in the local comp than an NRL premiership contender. Perhaps it's time for the powers that be on the local councils who dream of an 18th Century village