Brutal truth facing the Sea Eagles after return of 'Manly 7'

Pictured here, Manly coach Des Hasler fronts media at an NRL press conference.
Friday night's match against Parramatta should reveal whether Des Hasler's Manly side are a team united in the wake of the pride jersey saga. Pic: Getty

Manly coach Des Hasler is the biggest control freak in rugby league.

He once fronted the Brookvale Oval groundsman to complain about the length of the grass, ordering the mower to be raised ahead of the next game because a fast track didn’t suit his game plan.

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On another occasion he rang this columnist demanding an online story be taken down because he felt the tone of the story would give the opposition extra ammunition to beat his Manly team.

It didn't. Hasler's team won convincingly.

But it's that thoroughness, which sits at borderline paranoia, that has served Hasler well during a highly successful coaching career.

Des has done a good job attempting to control the narrative around his football club amid the pride jersey fiasco.

It’s been vintage Hasler.

He has said and done all the right things, getting on the front foot early and insisting there are no fractures or divisions between those who played and those who stood down despite rumours to the contrary.

How would anyone really know?

We've only heard from the pro-rainbow brigade, not from the seven who sat out last Thursday's loss to the Roosters.

Fans are only hearing one side of the story. They may be surprised to know what is really going down at Brookvale.

Time will tell if Manly are a club united or not

A group hug at training or publicly stating all is ok doesn’t mean it is.

We will know a lot more about the make-up of this Manly side after it meets old nemesis Parramatta at a heaving 4 Pines Park on Friday night.

Seen here, Manly's Martin Taupau standing with Sea Eagles teammate Reuben Garrick during the round 20 loss against the Roosters.
Manly's Martin Taupau stands with Sea Eagles teammate Reuben Garrick during the round 20 loss against the Roosters. Pic: Getty (Cameron Spencer via Getty Images)

The spare parts Sea Eagles were great against the Roosters, but the rugby league world awaits to see how they perform now they're supposedly one big happy family again.

How will the players left to carry the load last week respond to the anti-rainbow brigade when the going gets tough?

Will there be sideways glances if it all goes to pot?

Has the trust and bond been broken beyond repair or will this truly be a Manly team united and, dare we say it, singing from the same hymn sheet?

It will take a strong win against a quality opposition – or a competitive loss at the least – to convince the cynics all is good.

Otherwise stand-by for another week of innuendo, rumour and drama.

That's one thing Hasler can’t control.

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