Paul Vautin's eye-opening response to Anthony Seibold joining Manly

The Manly legend is one of those who questioned the NRL club's controversial decision.

Pictured left to right, Manly legend Paul Vautin and new Sea Eagles coach Anthony Seibold.
Manly legend Paul Vautin was surprised Anthony Seibold was appointed coach of the Sea Eagles and not a former player. Pic: Getty

Manly legend Paul 'Fatty' Vautin says he was surprised when Anthony Seibold was appointed to take over from Des Hasler as coach, admitting he thought the role would have gone to one of the club's former players. Only three men that have coached the Sea Eagles before Seibold - Graham Lowe, Peter Sharp and Trent Barrett - were not former players of the proud club on Sydney's northern beaches.

Seibold - who many doubted would return to the NRL coaching hot-seat after being dumped by Brisbane - begins his campaign with Manly at home to the new-look Canterbury Bulldogs in round one on Saturday. A former Dally M Coach of the Year with the Rabbitohs in 2018, Seibold's appointment at Manly was a controversial one, both owing to his disastrous stint in Brisbane, and the manner club legend Hasler was punted from the Sea Eagles in the wake of last season's infamous Pride jersey debacle.

'HE'S A GRUB': Jarome Luai in fresh furore over 'disgusting' act

'WON THEM OVER': Braith Anasta's message to haters after backlash

Vautin says he was among those to question whether Seibold was the right man for the job. The former Manly premiership winner says when it became clear that Hasler no longer had a coaching future at the club, he thought Manly bosses might turn to former coach and fellow club legend Geoff Toovey for another crack at the top role, after he was sacked in 2015. The Channel Nine commentator also thought Broncos assistant coach and fellow Manly premiership winner, Matt Ballin, was another possibility.

"They've only ever had success when a former Manly player has coached … and it's like a fabric," Vautin told Wide World of Sports at Nine's NRL season launch. "Manly becomes part of your body when you play for them, so I'm surprised they went outside of a Manly player (as coach)."

Vautin admits it was "sad" to see Hasler driven out of the club and lamented the way the Manly legend was treated. However, the 63-year-old backed the two-time premiership-winning coach to "bounce back" and insisted "he's not done yet" as a coach in the NRL.

Anthony Seibold off to a bright start at Manly

While Vautin is one of the latest to question Seibold's suitability to the Manly coaching role, the man himself is already going about proving the doubters wrong. Seibold's side recently pocketed the $100,000 prize for winning the NRL Pre-Season Challenge after impressive win against the Rabbitohs and Roosters.

Seibold admits he had serious reservations about returning to the NRL as a head coach, so painful was his experience with the Broncos and the fallout that ensued. " There was certainly a time after my previous head coach experience (at Brisbane) that I thought maybe I didn't want to be a head coach again," Seibold told 9News last week.

However, the 48-year-old credits his relationship with Bulldogs supremo Phil Gould and some important advice from the rugby league icon, with helping realise his passion for coaching. Seibold said the relationship he'd forged with Gould during his time in Brisbane helped steel him for another crack as a head coach in the NRL.

Anthony Seibold says Gus Gould has always offered his time and knowledge of the game generously to the coach. Pic: Getty
Anthony Seibold says Gus Gould has always offered his time and knowledge of the game generously to the coach. Pic: Getty

"Phil was really generous with his time when I was coaching the Broncos," Seibold revealed. "There was one time I spent a full day at Phil's house ... talking with one of the best minds in the game for the best part of six or seven hours.

After Seibold's unceremonious exit from Brisbane, his reluctance to return to a head coaching role would have been completely understandable. However, the 48-year-old said some valuable words of advice from Gould helped keep the fire burning.

"There was a message he said to me after I finished up at the Broncos, it was around, 'don't hide behind the curtains' - the message I took was even though (it had been) a really challenging time, get back out there and hold your head high."

The new Manly coach's first big test comes in an enticing round one encounter with rookie Bulldogs coach Cameron Ciraldo - the former Penrith assistant coach, who is being tipped for big things alongside Gould at Canterbury. Seibold was last week dealt a blow to his round one plans when first-choice five-eighth Josh Schuster was ruled out of the opener due to a calf injury.

Click here to sign up to our newsletter for all the latest and breaking stories from Australia and around the world.