Des Hasler has sent an early warning to his Sea Eagles players after he was confirmed as the club’s new coach on a three-year deal.
Seven years after his acrimonious departure for Canterbury following Manly’s 2011 premiership success, Hasler has again been tasked with rebuilding the club.
But after a horror 2018 season that saw the Sea Eagles finish 15th on the ladder and battle a reduction in the salary cap, the 57-year-old is not expecting a top-four miracle.
“You’d like to think so but you’ve only got to look at their year last year,” he said.
“They had a fair share of injuries. I’d like to make all the excuses in the world by saying (salary) cap and this and that and injuries but I’m excited about the football team.
“And ultimately it’ll be up to them.”
Manly have faced a $660,000 penalty to their cap for the 2018 and 2019 seasons after they were found guilty of deliberate breaches.
The side will be led by star halfback Daly Cherry-Evans and supported by Tom and Jake Trbojevic, who have emerged in the years since Hasler left in 2011.
“It was funny. When I was coaching here last a young Tom was coming up through the grades,” Hasler said.
“I think he came up for a training session once when he was still playing (under-16s) Harold Matts and even then he was knocking the guys around.
“It’s great to see them progress – (they’re) good footballers. I’m looking forward to working with all the players and concentrating on footy.”
Hasler, who led the club to seven consecutive finals series and two NRL titles during his previous eight-season tenure, replaces Trent Barrett, who gave notice in July citing a lack of resources at the club.
Barrett’s future role remains unclear, with the club still locked in negotiations with him as he is currently contracted until midway through the 2019 season.
“I think we’ve been clear for the last few months that Trent is still employed by the club,” said Manly chairman and majority owner Scott Penn.
“He has a contract on foot. He resigned. That was his decision and then as a club we need to protect our interests and that’s exactly what we’re doing.
“We need a coach for 2019 and we’re still working through that process.”
DES HASLER’S NRL COACHING RECORD
Win rate: 59.2 per cent
Finals series: 7
Grand finals 3 (2007, 2008, 2011)
Premierships: 2 (2008, 2011)
Win rate: 56.8 per cent
Finals series: 5
Grand finals: 2 (2012, 2014)
Win rate: 58.2 per cent