Tom Trbojevic in telling confession as NRL superstar's position switch for Manly confirmed

The 27-year-old will be back in action for the Sea Eagles in Round 18 - but he won't be playing fullback.

Tom Trbojevic has admitted he was "rattled" by his latest injury setback earlier this year, but is looking forward to returning for Manly next week and switching from fullback to centre. The Sea Eagles announced on Saturday that Trbojevic will be back in action for their clash with the Cowboys in Round 18 - eight weeks after injuring his hamstring against the Dolphins.

But the club revealed that Trbojevic will play centre, rather than his customary position of fullback. The 27-year-old has suffered an array of injuries over the last three seasons, and the switch is designed to keep Trbojevic on the field longer in the hope he can recapture the form that saw him win the Dally M medal in 2021.

Tom Trbojevic at the Dally M medal ceremony in 2021.
Manly are hoping Tom Trbojevic can recapture the form that saw him win the Dally M medal in 2021 (R). Image: Getty

Trbojevic has played the majority of his career at fullback, but has represented Australia and NSW while playing wing or centre. Playing in the front line will mean Trbojevic will have to make more tackles, but it should take some of the strain off his legs.

The Manly star has struggled with hamstring and hip issues in recent years, but has also dislocated his shoulder and torn his pectoral muscle. The Sea Eagles have the luxury of using Tolu Koula or Lehi Hopoate at fullback so Trbojevic can move wider.

Tom Trbojevic in action for Manly.
Tom Trbojevic in action for Manly earlier in 2024. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

“It’s going to be a different challenge, but one I’m excited about,” Trbojevic told the Sydney Morning Herald on Saturday. “We’ve got someone like Koula who can play fullback. It’s just good to mix it up for a few weeks and see how we go. The new position keeps me mentally fresh as well.

“I’ve been back running at full speed the past couple of weeks. There have been no dramas. I don’t want to jinx anything. I was pretty rattled by the last injury.

“I’m probably not in the position to demand what I can or can’t do. There’s a bit more contact defensively in the centres, but attacking wise, the positions are similar. I just want to get back playing. I’ll do what’s best for the team.”

Tom Trbojevic, pictured here after winning the Dally M medal in 2021.
Tom Trbojevic has been ravaged by injuries since winning the Dally M medal in 2021. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

Speaking earlier this month, Manly coach Anthony Seibold flagged the potential of moving Trbojevic to centre. Seibold said the club had collected data that there isn't much difference between playing fullback and centre, but admitted the extra rigours of playing No.1 had taken a toll on Trbojevic.

"We've had a number of conversations about position," the Manly coach said. "Rather than just think about the change of position subjectively, we've had a really good objective look at the GPS data. What we've wanted to see is, what are the demands of a fullback and what are the demands of a centre?

"To be frank, from a data point of view, there's not a whole heap of difference. There's a little bit more change of pace as a fullback, but there's a lot more contact when you're playing centre. There's a number of things we need to consider and we've got a couple of weeks until we have to make that decision."


Trbojevic's return in Round 18 means he's also available for NSW in State of Origin 3. But Blues coach Michael Maguire seems unlikely to change a winning team, with Dylan Edwards, Brian To'o, Latrell Mitchell, Stephen Crichton and Zac Lomax all firing in a 38-18 victory in Game 2.