Des Hasler refuses to answer $565,000 question before NRL grudge match with Manly

Hasler is set to coach against his former side for the first time since joining the Titans.

Gold Coast coach Des Hasler is desperate for the Titans to score their first win of the NRL season against his former club Manly on Saturday, but one question remains off limits for the veteran mentor. Hasler addressed his feud with Raiders coach Ricky Stuart after last week's dramatic golden point loss to Canberra, and also his side's winless start to the season, following five defeats and a bye.

But the former Manly coach has refused to discuss his ugly legal dispute with the club he won premierships with as both a player and coach. Hasler was let go by the Sea Eagles in the wake of the Pride jersey debacle in 2022, when seven players refused to run out for Manly in special rainbow-designed jerseys. Manly fell out of finals contention in the wake of the drama and after that season the club parted ways with Hasler, who still had two years left on his contract.

Titans coach Des Hasler comes up against his former club Manly in the NRL on Saturday amid a legal dispute with the Sea Eagles. Pic: Getty
Titans coach Des Hasler comes up against his former club Manly in the NRL on Saturday amid a legal dispute with the Sea Eagles. Pic: Getty

The Sea Eagles offered Hasler a $565,000 settlement but the veteran coach is understood to be seeking double that amount and the dispute is now before the NSW Supreme Court. Hasler found a new head coaching role at the Titans and said before the first match against his former club on Saturday night that he still has "fond memories" of his time at the Sea Eagles but would not talk about the ugly fallout due to legal reasons.

"It is great memories and fond memories, something you will always cherish," Hasler admitted about his time at Manly. "You lean back and remember the experience (but) I am pretty excited about the prospects here at the Titans."


Des Hasler chasing first win of season against Manly

The 63-year-old coach played down suggestions he had inside knowledge about how to beat Manly but offered a simple plan to nullify the threat of superstar Manly fullback, Tom Trbojevic. "Don't give him the ball," Hasler said. The veteran mentor also refuted the idea that coaching against his former side carried "more meaning" and insisted the two competition points were his primary concern.

"If you look at the way we've started, a win is the biggest meaning at the moment. Manly have been playing pretty good footy," he added. "The concentration is (on) what we can control and what we need to do better as a team. We took a lot out of last week. If you are a footy tragic, when you break it down there were some good signs there."

Des Hasler plays down feud with Ricky Stuart

Hasler was fuming after Chevy Stewart charged down Kieran Foran's drop-goal attempt in golden point, with the NRL later admitting that he was in an offside position. The Titans coach and his Raiders counterpart Stuart were also understood to have been involved in a heated argument in the tunnel after the game and the Canberra coach accused Titans players of cheating during the match by holding down his players repeatedly in tackles.

NRL head of football Graham Annesley conceded Hasler's anger about the charge-down was justified but not his annoyance at the 10-1 set restart count against his side. Annesley said independent statistics revealed the Titans could have been penalised more often for being offside, while Stuart said Hasler was "on another planet" for his gripes.

Pictured left to right, Ricky Stuart and Des Hasler.
Ricky Stuart and Des Hasler were involved in a heated argument after the Raiders secured a dramatic golden point win. Image: Getty

Amid reports of a war of words between the two veteran coaches in the tunnel, Hasler told reporters on Friday there was nothing in the spat. "That was the biggest gee-up ever. We played them off a break there. We are still laughing about it," he said.

Hasler confirmed fullback Phil Sami failed a fitness test on Thursday and would miss the Sea Eagles clash. It leaves a massive question mark around who will play fullback for the Titans with first choice No.1 Jayden Campbell (knee) suffering an injury in the Canberra game.

with AAP