Manly's telling admission about Tom Trbojevic after Billy Slater floats eye-opening theory

The Manly Sea Eagles welcome back one of their superstars.

Anthony Seibold has claimed the Tom Trbojevic experiment at centre will be a week-by-week call, which comes after NRL legend Billy Slater's theory around the Manly star's positional switch. Last week, Manly announced Trbojevic would return in round 18 at centre.

While Trbojevic has played centre for the Blues in State of Origin, he has played nearly all of his club footy as one of the game's top fullbacks. Trbojevic has endured a brutal run of injuries and his latest hamstring setback has prompted a change in position to reduce the chance of re-injuring himself.

Anthony Seibold has claimed the Tom Trbojevic (pictured left) centre experiment will be a week-by-week call, which follows Billy Slater's (pictured right) theory. (Getty Images)
Anthony Seibold has claimed the Tom Trbojevic (pictured left) centre experiment will be a week-by-week call, which follows Billy Slater's (pictured right) theory. (Getty Images)

The 27-year-old hasn't played since round 10 and returns this week wearing the No.3 or No.4 jersey. Seibold and the Manly coaching staff have opted to move Trbojevic to a position that involves less intense acceleration.

Trbojevic hasn't played centre for Manly since 2016 when he played a few games after coming into the NRL. And Seibold has claimed the move isn't necessarily permanent and will be on a week-by-week basis.

"This is for this weekend. It's about getting him back on the field," Seibold said. "We want to try and keep Turbo on the field and in the game ... We feel like that's the right thing to do.

"We're just worried about tomorrow night's game, we'll worry about what happens after that afterwards. It was a pretty easy decision. He has played State of Origin as a centre. He will do it really well."

Seibold said the data showed the positional switch might be better for the Manly star as he gets back into playing regular footy. But it came down to conversations and a gut feeling.

"When we looked at the data objectively that (acceleration) was the main thing," Seibold said. "But it was a bit of a gut feel. As a coach you have a bit of a gut feel. A number of conversations with Turbo too."

Tolu Koula will wear the No.1 jersey for Manly this weekend in a big audition for the 21-year-old. Seibold's comments come after legendary fullback Slater claimed Manly experiment with their superstar might not last long.

"Anthony Seibold obviously feels that the centre position is a great starting point, but I wouldn't be surprised if he's nice and healthy a month before the finals, that he slips back into that fullback role," the Maroons coach said on Nine's The Billy Slater Podcast. "He will get a few reps in the centres and he might even interchange with Lehi Hopoate at some stage throughout games. He's a top-line fullback and player and you just want him involved in the game."

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Trbojevic missed out on selection for the Blues in 2024 due to injury when it appeared he might get a call up to play at centre. The 27-year-old now returns to NRL action with one game to impress coach Michael Maguire. The Blues coach will most likely select the same 17 against the Maroons, but Seibold said if he is called upon he won't block the Manly star's involvement.

"Of course he is (available). I've never stopped a player from playing representative football," Seibold said. "My thing would be if they are going to take him into camp, play him in the 17, not at 18. Because he's missed so much football."

Tom Trbojevic before a game.
Tom Trbojevic (pictured) returns for the Sea Eagles this weekend.