Why Was Des Hasler Fired? Manly’s Civil War Comes to an End

Why Manly sent Hasler flying.

Why Was Des Hasler Fired? Manly’s Civil War Comes to an End

For Manly Warringah Sea Eagles fans, the last three months have been some of the worst in recent memory.

A seven-game losing streak to finish the season, reported infighting within the squad, and a very public back and forth between the head coach and the club followed a major scandal surrounding the team’s decision to wear a one-off ‘pride jersey’.

All this controversy came to a head on the 13th October, with the Sea Eagles sacking Head Coach Des Hasler, after months of turmoil.

Hasler still had one year left on his contract, supposedly worth up to $1 million per season, but this was swiftly terminated with immediate effect. He had previously won two premierships with the Sea Eagles as a player, and then repeated the feat as a coach in 2009 and 2011.

But the firing comes after Manly players were worried that the club was “imploding,” following legal threats and very public battles between coach and the club.

Former South Sydney and Broncos coach Anthony Seibold is rumoured to be taking on the coaching job, after months of speculation over whether he would be replacing Hasler.

Read on as we take you through Manly’s coaching civil war from the start to its very ugly finish.

The Manly ‘Pride Jersey’ Scandal

The Sea Eagle lost seven games in a row following after the ‘pride jersey’ scandal. Image: @ABC

The Sea Eagles had come into the 2022 NRL season with high expectations. Hasler had masterminded the team to a fourth place finish the previous season, before eventually being knocked out in the preliminary final.

But in July 2022, on track to make the finals once again, Manly’s season was derailed by a scandal surrounding a one-off Sea Eagles ‘pride jersey’.

The team announced that wearing a rainbow-adorned top was intended to promote LGBTQ+ inclusivity and respect in rugby league.

However, just hours after the jersey unveiling, seven players in Manly’s squad announced that they would not wear the top, citing cultural and religious reasons. The players then boycotted a must-win game against the Sydney Roosters, which the Sea Eagles lost.

In a press conference prior to the game, Des Hasler apologised and said that none of the players or coaching staff were consulted before the jersey was launched.

He criticised Sea Eagle’s management, and “the execution of what was intended to be an extremely important initiative.”

He also claimed the club would respect the boycotters, who were “strong in their beliefs and convictions.”

The controversy sparked infighting within the squad, and contributed to a seven-game losing streak to finish the season. The Eagles ultimately finished in a disappointing 11th place, missing the finals altogether.

The Manly pride jersey controversy was the first indication that tensions between Hasler and the Sea Eagles front office were fraying. But unfortunately for Manly fans, it was only the beginning of their troubles.

Contract Disputes

Hasler is considering taking the Eagles to court over his contract. Image: @NRL.com

Fighting between Des Hasler and Manly’s management continued, centred around the terms of Hasler’s contract.

In the deal, finishing in the top-six in 2022 – as Manly had done the previous year – would automatically extend Hasler’s contract for the 2024 NRL season

Hasler said that pride jersey fiasco limited his chance of achieving these results and securing an automatic extension. Given that the players and coaching staff had not been consulted about the shirt, Hasler should not be blamed by the front office for the poor finish to the season.

The club disagreed, refusing to give their two-time premiership coach an extension.

Last week, it was reported that Hasler was considering a $1 million lawsuit against the Sea Eagles, blaming them for compromising his contractual obligations.

Now he’s been axed, he may well follow through on the threat and take the Eagles to the courts.

Manly’s Succession Plan

Anthony Seibold has been rumoured to be taking over Hasler’s job at Manly. Image: @NRL.com

Following the back-and-forth between Hasler and the club, Manly chairman Scott Penn put into place a plan to slowly wean Hasler out of his coaching role.

Penn favoured ex-South Sydney and Brisbane coach Anthony Seibold, who was previously an assistant with the Sea Eagles.

In the succession plan, Seibold was scheduled to become Manly’s assistant head coach in 2023, with the view that he would succeed Hasler as head coach for the 2024 season.

Hasler initially refused to go through with the deal, wanting to see out his contract. However, on Wednesday, Hasler was reported to have had a change of heart and was open to having Seibold as his assistant and eventual successor.

However, less than 24 hours later, the club sacked him regardless “after careful consideration.”

What’s Next For Manly?

Hasler’s exit might not only be a legal problem for the Manly Sea Eagles. Some of the Eagles’ star players are upset with recent events at the club.

Manly captain Daly Cherry-Evans is notoriously close with the coach, having given the halfback his start in NRL back in 2011. The pair ended up winning the premiership together by the end of that year.

Cherry-Evans admitted that he had contemplated leaving the club, saying that it had “crossed [his] mind” amidst Manly’s horror end to the season.

Other Eagles superstars Tom and Jake Trbojevic are also close with Hasler. They have reportedly requested a meeting with their agent today, to gauge other options after the firing.

Both Hasler and the Trbojevic brothers share the same management.

Will these superstars also follow Des Hasler out of the door at Manly?

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