Des Hasler opens up on his controversial 'salary cap' record

Scott Bailey

Des Hasler has defended his controversial NRL salary-cap management record, claiming things would have been different if he'd had a chance to see out his plans in previous head-coaching roles.

Hasler returned to work at Manly on Monday, seven years after his bitter departure following the Sea Eagles' 2011 premiership success

Criticised for his use of back-ended contracts after being sacked by from both Canterbury in 2016 and Manly in 2011, the veteran mentor believed there was nothing wrong with his approach.

"I've always had a pretty robust philosophy towards the best way to manage cap and list management at the time," Hasler said as he appeared to read a pre-written answer in Monday's press conference to trumpet his arrival, after first saying it wasn't the time to discuss Canterbury's cap matters.

Des Hasler has defended his controversial salary-cap management approach. Pic: Getty

"With an incumbent coach it's always that coach's priority to look at that list and to manage that list and carve out a way going forward.

"I think that exercise shouldn't be about laying the blame but rather (about) going forward.

"It will be no different for me and I will adopt that and it will be the same as when I was at Canterbury and also at Manly here prior to 2012.

"Players' values are very subjective and it's got to fit in with the coach's plans at that particular time.

"I think it's naive to suggest that one salary cap management plan is another's misery."

Hasler indicated on Monday he'd likely take a similar approach into his return at Manly, defending the method that took the club to two premierships.

Half of his roster was overhauled between his 2008 and 2011 titles, with rookie halfback Daly Cherry-Evans among the younger players he brought in for his second success.

Manly coach Des Hasler has defended his record managing salary caps at the Sea Eagles and Bulldogs

But the club felt the pain following his departure, as Geoff Toovey reached the 2013 decider but he and successor Trent Barrett had to deal with an ageing roster in the years that followed.

Canterbury then faced a similar problem with rising contract values this season.

"I've always had a plan. I've always been committed to executing that plan going into the future in my time at the Dogs and in time here prior to Manly," Hasler said.

"Had I been retained in those coaching roles I would have been committed to seeing those plans through and manage those matters that I've always had.

"In my coaching time we've had some success.

"The notion of back-ended deals as reported is simplistic and generally wrong. It does not have regard to many factors that come into list management."