Fortress Brookvale ready for Hasler
The last time Des Hasler was at Brookvale Oval, he was chaired off the ground by a jubilant playing group clutching the NRL premiership trophy.
On Friday night, when he returns for the first time as Canterbury coach, Hasler will be booed by furious fans who rightly or wrongly still feel betrayed by a man who not only helped deliver four premierships, but also played a leading role in saving the club a decade ago.
The Brookvale faithful will bypass his two premierships as a player, and two more as coach, and ignore the reason behind his exit – an irreparable relationship with a dysfunctional board.
Instead, they will scream blue murder at their former favourite son, who lost their support the second he worked to take the rest of the defending premiers’ coaching staff to Belmore with him in 2012.
Hasler succeeded with the addition of recruitment guru Noel Cleal, assistant coach Kelly Egan and sprint coach Clayton Kearney, before embarking on a relentless, but unsuccessful, pursuit of young five-eighth Kieran Foran and eventually snaring powerhouse back-rower Tony Williams.
Which is why, even though Manly’s players have all moved on and still maintain a positive relationship with the mentor who brought most of them into first grade, they can at least appreciate why this round-20 clash is so important to Sea Eagles fans.
“Yeah I understand it. I think they’re warranted but that’s all up to the fans,” winger David Williams said on Thursday.
Origin back-rower Jamie Buhrer expects the fans to be vocal, and said he hopes that will be translated into a pro-Manly feeling at the ground.
“He left the club. The players and everyone else associated with us understands it (but) the fans are a bit more passionate,” Buhrer said.
“They don’t see it as a business, so I’m sure they’re going to be very vocal and aggressive.
“Hopefully, we get a packed house here and there’s not many doggies fans.”
Hasler has said he is not expecting a hostile reception despite his acrimonious departure and it appears he isn’t the only person who will be treating this match the same as any other.
Canterbury chief executive Todd Greenberg confirmed the club had been assured by the Sea Eagles that Hasler’s safety would not be under any threat.
“I’ve spoken with (chief executive) David Perry at Manly this week and neither of us thinks we need (extra security),” Greenberg told AAP.
“I’ve also spoken with Des and we’re very comfortable with the plans in place and there are no issues to worry about, we think.”
Manly coach Geoff Toovey also said Hasler had no reason to be worried.
“There’s never any dramas down at Brookvale and I don’t think there will be any dramas on Friday,” Toovey said.
“… I think the fans will treat Des with a lot of respect.”© AAP 2013