Manly Sea Eagles in brutal Mad Monday fallout as club divided

·Sports Reporter
·4-min read
Daly Cherry-Evans and Des Hasler speak at a Manly Sea Eagles press conference.
Manly endured a bitter end to their season, with the futures of both captain Daly Cherry-Evans and coach Des Hasler in some doubt. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

The Manly Sea Eagles clearly have a ways to go in repairing a divide within its playing group, after roughly half of the list reportedly didn't show up to the team's Mad Monday celebrations.

After a promising start to the NRL season, the Sea Eagles' fortunes nosedived late in the season when a handful of players refused to wear a rainbow jersey for Pride Round earlier in the season.

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While the Pride Round incident has been seen as a flashpoint for discontent among the playing group, the seeds of discontent reportedly date back as far as last season, when club captain Daly Cherry-Evans was permitted to live with his family away from the rest of the team while competition was limited to a bio-secure bubble.

Others on the team were reportedly left frustrated by the move, who questioned Cherry-Evans' suitability as captain after he separated himself from the rest of the squad.

Cherry-Evans was in attendance for the planned function at Brookvale Oval on Sunday, but speaking on NRL 360, the Daily Telegraph's Phil Rothfield said it was simply more indication of discontent.

“They are completely fractured,” Rothfield said.

“They had their Mad Monday on Sunday after the Canterbury loss. They were all supposed to turn up at Brookvale oval for a beer and a drink and a get together.

“Half didn’t show up.”

It comes as the Sea Eagles venture into the offseason weighing up the future of head coach Des Hasler, with the club expected to make changes to his coaching staff after a crisis meeting later this week.

Uncertainty surrounding Hasler's future with the club has also impacted the playing group, with star brothers Tom and Jake Trojevic reportedly less than impressed with the scrutiny surrounding the coach.

Rothfield said Cherry-Evans' more reserved style had led to doubts in his ability, leading to Jake Trbojevic being tagged as a potential replacement for him.

"He is an aloof sort of character so when there are problems like the pride jersey or tactics or form or Des and they want to discuss it he’s not as approachable as someone like Jake Trboejvic,” he said.

“This is why there is a push for Jake to take over”.

“I don’t think it’s any secret that (Cherry-Evans) has relationship problems with a lot of the football side."

Sea Eagles contemplate future amid Des Hasler rumours

Manly CEO Tony Mestrov insists he can create stability without putting the broom through the NRL club with personnel changes.

Since last Friday's seventh-straight loss to end the season, the Sea Eagles have endured days of rumours of in-fighting in both the playing and management ranks.

A player survey which featured questions about who should coach the team next year leaked, with key football staff adamant such questions are asked each season.

There have also been claims of rifts between the Fulton family and Hasler, as well as repeated questions over the futures of the coach and his assistants.

Beyond that, Mestrov also faces a battle to turn the club around internally.

He walked into a storm last month when he started in the days after the pride jersey saga that tore apart Manly's season.

Des Hasler is pictured during a Manly Sea Eagles training session.
Des Hasler's position as Manly coach is in some doubt, with the club rumoured to be pursuing new assistant coaches. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

That rainbow jersey drama and subsequent seven-player boycott was no doubt propelled in part by the fact Manly were without a CEO at the time, with Stephen Humphreys the fifth to exit in eight years.

But Mestrov insists he is in for the long haul and, while he knows change must come, he is adamant the right people are already in place.

"I can look inside the business at the moment and say a lot needs to change," Mestrov told AAP.

"I am not saying the personnel needs to change. The processes and structures need to.

"We need some stability.

"We need a reset button. (This year) hasn't worked out. It has exposed some issues with business."

Manly have fluctuated from finalists to also-rans each season since 2017, with their success clearly linked to injury-hit superstar fullback Tom Trbojevic's fitness.

With AAP

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