Geoff Toovey in stunning return to Manly Sea Eagles after eight-year absence

The former player and coach is back at Manly after his ugly exit in 2015.

Geoff Toovey, pictured here at Manly in 2015.
Geoff Toovey is returning to Manly after eight years. Image: Getty

The Manly Sea Eagles have announced that Geoff Toovey has accepted a position as pathways coaching co-ordinator in a stunning return to the NRL club after his acrimonious exit in 2015. Toovey, who played 238 games for Manly, also coached the club from 2012 to 2015 and led them to the grand final in 2013.

But Toovey was sacked after the team's ninth-place finish in 2015, despite the fact he'd led them to top-four finishes in 2012 and 2014. "The decision has been made and I have to accept that," Toovey said at the time. "I'm very disappointed that my coaching career has ended this year but it's still not over yet."

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On Saturday, the Sea Eagles announced that Toovey will be returning to the club in a new role. As pathways coaching co-ordinator, Toovey will oversee the coaching structure of Manly’s Harold Matthews, SG Ball, Jersey Flegg, Tarsha Gale Cup, Lisa Fiaola and junior development programs.

"It's great to be back involved with Manly through the Pathways program," the 1996 premiership winner said. “I’m looking forward to the opportunity of producing some local talent and to help develop them into future first graders at Manly.”

Manly CEO Tony Mestrov welcomed Toovey's return after his eight-year absence. “Tooves has got so much to offer us. Everyone is so happy to have him back – the players and all the staff,’’ Mestrov said.

“The members and fans will love it too. He is so popular and so respected. The junior reps program is such an important part of an NRL club. Tooves will oversee the coaching of our best juniors to ensure they are ready for the NRL when their time comes.”

Geoff Toovey, pictured here in the coaches box during a game in 2015.
Geoff Toovey (R) looks on from the coaches box during a game in 2015. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

Toovey also played 48 games for the now-defunct Northern Eagles, as well as 16 State of Origin games for NSW and 13 Test matches for Australia. He won 61 out of 105 games as coach of the Sea Eagles (58 per cent), but didn't fare as well while coaching Bradford in the UK (six wins out of 26 games at 26 per cent).

Fans reacted to the news on social media, with the majority over the moon to see the club legend return.

Welcome news for Manly after ugly loss to Gold Coast

The news also comes at a welcome time for fans after Manly's loss to the Titans on Saturday night. Manly's woes without Tom Trbojevic continued as David Fifita inspired Gold Coast to a 26-10 win at Brookvale.

Fifita entered beast mode to score one try and set up another as he continued his push to regain his Queensland State of Origin jersey. Trbojevic missed the game with a groin injury, with the result leaving the Sea Eagles' record without their gun fullback at 18 from 54 since the start of 2019 (33 per cent).

It was abundantly clear how important Trbojevic is to Manly's attack as they played without impetus on Saturday night. The Sea Eagles couldn't execute on the Titans line and couldn't threaten out of their own end, while young replacement Kaeo Weekes lacked the touches of Trbojevic and couldn't find his way into the game.

"You always want your best players," Manly coach Anthony Seibold said. "But I thought young Kaeo Weekes held his hands up. We didn't seem connected in attack tonight, we didn't ask a lot of questions. He didn't have the chance to play his best tonight."

with AAP

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