Where to now for the Manly Warringah Sea Eagles?

Mary Konstantopoulos Columnist

By Mary Konstantopoulos, Mary Konstantopoulos is a Roar Expert

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    Hands up if you hate the Manly Warringah Sea Eagles?

    If I know rugby league fans, there are plenty of hands in the air right now. But that shouldn’t bother us too much, because apparently ‘Manly hates [us] too’.

    My hand isn’t in the air. I know it’s blasphemy, but I have never hated Manly the way other footy fans have. Perhaps I’m too young to appreciate the feuds of the past or perhaps I find it hard to hate a team that includes the likes of Akuila Uate and Marty Taupau.

    But it’s clear that in 2018 the Sea Eagles are in a lot of trouble both on and off the field.

    And it just keeps going from bad to worse, with it confirmed over the weekend that Lachlan Croker did his ACL for the third time in the loss to the Knights on Friday night and will not return this season. He joins a growing injury ward that already includes Brad Parker, Jorge Taufua, Jake Gosiewski, Curtis Sironen and Kelepi Tanginoa.

    Truth be told, I am unsurprised about Manly’s misfortunes on the field, particularly given the off-field circumstances surrounding the club right now.

    Martin Taupau

    (Jason McCawley/Getty Images)

    A fish rots from its head, and given the salary cap scandal that has come to the fore this year, it’s fair to say Manly’s head has a lot of work to do to clean up the festering rot which has engulfed the club over the last few years.

    In this sense they are fortunate to have Lyall Gorman at the helm, a CEO who is known for his ability to clean up messes.

    The Manly salary cap saga has been treated differently in the media to the scandals which involved the Canterbury Bulldogs, Melbourne Storm and Parramatta Eels. But don’t let the fact that Manly didn’t lose any competition points fool you; the charges were just as serious.

    The Sea Eagles were fined $750,000, had two past and present officials were banned and were also handed a $330,000 penalty to their 2018 and 2019 cup because the club was discovered to have promised players $1.5 million in additional undisclosed payments over the past five years.

    Potentially that penalty on this year and next year’s cap is more damaging than any penalty handed out in the past for other salary cap breaches because it means that after the sanctions were announced, the Sea Eagles were not able to start fresh. The club will be impacted by these sanctions this year as they look to sign new talent, and then potentially next year too.

    Former Manly CEO Joe Kelly

    (AAP Image/Mick Tsikas)

    The reason the Sea Eagles did not lose competition points is that they are apparently under the cap this year. But the penalties imposed on this year and next year’s caps have left the Sea Eagles in a lot of trouble, particularly after the number of injuries they have had this season – and the season is still young.

    The cold, hard reality for Trent Barrett is that on Tuesday he needs to select 21 players. He has only 21 players left to pick from.

    And the big question is: will Barrett select Jackson Hastings, who was recently been banished to play for the Blacktown Workers in the InTrust Super Premiership, in part for his involvement in an incident with Daly Cherry-Evans in Gladstone a couple of weeks ago?

    This situation intrigues me. There are, by all accounts, plenty of challenging characters in rugby league. I understand that. The reality is that not everyone in a team is going to get along with everyone else.

    But how can it be that Hastings is the most challenging of all the challenging characters? I don’t know Hastings, but I’m struggling to understand how he can be deemed such a problem, particularly after several Manly players have come out and said that they would be happy to play with him.

    Jackson Hastings warming up with the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles

    (AAP Image/Brendan Esposito)

    Something doesn’t add up here, particularly when Hastings was banished while Cherry-Evans continues to play first grade after copping a fine for the role he played at Gladstone.

    Hastings, of course, was said on Sunday to now be available for selection again, Gorman saying publicly that he would be included in the club’s squad to play the Roosters this week.

    This would potentially be an embarrassing backflip for Barrett after telling the media that he had no intention of including Hastings in his first-grade squad for the rest of the year.

    The loss to the Knights was the Sea Eagles’ sixth in eight rounds, and it doesn’t get much easier from here, with their next game against the desperate Roosters next Sunday.

    We can describe their performances as brave, but that won’t be enough to get their season back on track. What worries me the most is that there is a financial penalty also imposed on next year’s cap, so I query whether 2019 will also be just as difficult for the club, particularly when they look to sign new talent.

    One final comment: there’s this idea in rugby league that for the game and clubs to be successful you need ‘rugby league’ people in positions of power. Apparently ‘rugby league’ people are mostly thought of as people who have played the game.

    We need to be very careful with this line of thinking.

    The reality is that there is a place in footy for everyone, but you need to find your place, whether it be as a player, a board member, an administrator, a fan, a cheerleader or a member.

    Ex-footy players will not always be the most appropriate people to have involved in positions of power at our clubs, and I would argue that this has in part contributed to the strife Manly find themselves in now and indeed the strife that Parramatta also found themselves in a few years ago.

    Our clubs are multimillion-dollar businesses and this needs to be remembered when we are making decisions about them.

    As for the poor Sea Eagles, I know it’s trendy as a footy fan to dislike the Silvertails, but spare a thought for their fans, who are looking down the barrel of a very difficult 2018 – and it’s only the end of Round 8.

    Mary Konstantopoulos
    Mary Konstantopoulos

    Mary Konstantopoulos is a lawyer, sports advocate and proud owner and founder of the Ladies Who empire, including Ladies who League, Ladies who Legspin, Ladies who Lineout and Ladies who Leap. You can find her podcast on iTunes and find her on Twitter @mary__kaye and @ladieswholeague.

    A Sporting Discussion is Australia's premier podcast for talking sports of all sorts. No topic (or sport) is off limits for lively discussion and debate. Featuring experts and guests from across the sporting world, it's a veritable feast for your ears. Tune in and have your say today!

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    The Crowd Says (51)

    • April 30th 2018 @ 7:52am
      Forty Twenty said | April 30th 2018 @ 7:52am | ! Report

      Although we have lost players the team running onto the field each week is a strong outfit and injuries to me aren’t the big issue Mary. Where to we go from here is the same question faced by the Eels and Raiders a couple of weeks back and they have proven that the roster wasn’t the main issue. The Eels have come good and I didn’t notice your crazy and best forward running around on the field either. I’ve tipped the Eels to finish ahead of the Tigers on the table.

      Probably the club were better off demoting Hastings without all the declarations. Munster had a blue with Hunt I believe and it’s old news now. The difference between a good and ordinary season for a lot of clubs also comes down to how many close games you win. Last year Manly got up in most of the close ones but we’ve already lost two games to the Knights which were very winnable. Win those two and we have a platform to get our act together and make the eight.

      The Eels have just won a close game and to me that is the spring board for a good run of form , the players feel like they are back in town.

      I know of a long time minor sponsor of the Eagles who was very unhappy at his treatment by the club before this season and had to try to chase the club to renew his deal . He didn’t in the end. The photo they get each year with the players didn’t happen and the signed jumper didn’t appear from last season either. Not massive issues but indicative of broader mismanagement perhaps.

      Two of the easier targets when a team is playing poorly is the roster and the coach but often it isn’t the big issue and that’s how it seems at the Eagles.

      • Roar Rookie

        April 30th 2018 @ 9:29am
        Hard Yards said | April 30th 2018 @ 9:29am | ! Report

        Last year Manly won 3 golden point games: 2 against the Raiders and 1 against the Warriors. They could easily have been losses – and should have been a draw anyway in my book, but I won’t start on that.

        Storm and the Dragons together scored 147 points against them over 4 games. Even the Tigers and the Dogs put on 30 against them to both win in a 2 week period in August.

        Defence problem anyone?

        As for this year, it’s like a slow motion film of the Hindenburg Disaster. Points are scored against them at will.
        A coach would have solved the obvious problem with defence.

        Manly need a coach.

        • April 30th 2018 @ 9:55am
          kk said | April 30th 2018 @ 9:55am | ! Report

          Hard Yards,
          Assuming you mean now: what manner of man would take it upon himself (and family)
          to endure 125 days of unrelenting discontent to seasons end.

          I would like to think Neil Henry, but the Manly faithful may be ready for the return of Des.

          Trent looks traumatised. He needs a break, one way or the other.

          • Roar Guru

            April 30th 2018 @ 10:27am
            Con Scortis said | April 30th 2018 @ 10:27am | ! Report

            Hard Yards, Oh the Humanity!!

          • Roar Rookie

            April 30th 2018 @ 11:36am
            Hard Yards said | April 30th 2018 @ 11:36am | ! Report

            KK, I’m going to rule myself out so I can spend more time with the ladies.

            Now as for a real coach, yes Des would be well received by the fanbase and no doubt the team. The problem is wealthy men. When a bloke has a lot of money, he sees himself as some sort of Leonardo Da Vinci – a genius who is never wrong. Takes big men in those shoes to shake hands and make up concerning events in the past.

            Even if Des were to be even considered- and it’s a big if – if I was him I’d spend the rest of this year on the boat at Pittwater, and look at next year when everyone on the ladder was on 0.

            A lot of work needs to be done on Manly. Two years have slid by without attention to fundamentals in the hope that individual brilliance would pull the rabbit out of the hat on the field. The successful Manly model has always been defend to the death; take the fight to em up the middle, and let the few flashes of brilliance per game get them over the line. Tried and tested.

            I’m with you about Neil Henry. I think he was completely done over at the Titans. I thought he did a good job with the talent he had at the GC notwithstanding Mr I Think I’ll Give The Davis Cup a Go Next.

            He’d put some basics back into the team – but that’s still really hard when you have a game each week and injuries to contend with along the way. Manly need a very busy off season.

            Trent needs to look at this as a spiritual learning experience, or as burning off bad karma. I’d hate to be him now. He’d put up an umbrella and it would start to rain from inside of it.

            • April 30th 2018 @ 1:55pm
              kk said | April 30th 2018 @ 1:55pm | ! Report

              You have a magic pen, Hard Yards. Hope they read it at the Eyrie.

            • April 30th 2018 @ 5:10pm
              Big Daddy said | April 30th 2018 @ 5:10pm | ! Report

              Trouble is wealthy men don’t remain wealthy when they invest in rugby league teams.
              Why would you.

          • April 30th 2018 @ 1:46pm
            no one in particular said | April 30th 2018 @ 1:46pm | ! Report

            Barrett should have never been given the job. Had zero experience at Holden Cup, NSW/Qld Cup or Super League. No experience preparing a team and gameplans week to week. He is in way over his head. He has showed favouritism in the playing group, which has resulted in a split

            Neil Henry should never, ever be considered for an NRL job ever again. Three clubs, three losing records

            • May 2nd 2018 @ 12:05pm
              Adam said | May 2nd 2018 @ 12:05pm | ! Report

              Wasn’t he assistant coach in the Panthers lower grades? NSW Cup, or Holden Cup? He has experience coaching, Manly are just duds. Dragons happy to let Joel Thompson go, who was ok, but nothing special and look how Saints are firing

      • Columnist

        April 30th 2018 @ 11:15am
        Mary Konstantopoulos said | April 30th 2018 @ 11:15am | ! Report

        When I talk about where to from here, injuries are a major concern of mine. As I said Barrett needs to name 21 players this week and he only has 21 players left to choose from. What will happen during SOO or if any more injuries occur?

        I think the squad is reasonable, but I think that other factors might be having just too big of an impact.

        • April 30th 2018 @ 6:06pm
          Forty Twenty said | April 30th 2018 @ 6:06pm | ! Report

          The Pennies are decimated with injuries and have lost their SOO standard half back as well as other key players yet are playing well. Manly still have a top eight roster as we speak and our position on the table isn’t about injuries but they won’t help us get out of the swamp.

    • Roar Rookie

      April 30th 2018 @ 8:20am
      BA Sports said | April 30th 2018 @ 8:20am | ! Report

      You have old dogs who have been in and around that club for years and years pushing the “everyone hates us so we will show them” culture. That worked with people like the Stewart boys who grew up brawlers, the Matai’s and Watmough’s with minimal intellect and easily influenced and the Lyon’s who have always complained about everything their entire footballing life. But now you have players like Jake and Tom and they don’t strike anyone as fitting any of those molds along with the Uate’s, Kelly’s, Croker’s and Thompson etc who all seem like professionals or guys wanting to do their job. DCE seems to have grub in him so he will buy in to the old guy culture, but clearly he doesn’t have the full support of the team, or at least the power to influence them.

      Management wants a certain culture, but the people they have employed, might all have the required talent but they don’t have the personalities to fit the culture. That seems to be a big part of the problem.

    • April 30th 2018 @ 8:21am
      Richard POWELL said | April 30th 2018 @ 8:21am | ! Report

      “The team running onto the field……is a strong outfit” They may be physically strong. They may even have talent. However the culture and their attitude stinks. That Trent Barrett could support DCE over Hastings is just dumb. DCE is the captain; he said “f….you” to the curfew; he led players to a strip club/brothel; he started the fight with Hastings – and yet Barrett supported DCE and sacked Hastings?????
      I can’t see Manly getting off the floor for several years.

      • April 30th 2018 @ 8:24pm
        Chris Love said | April 30th 2018 @ 8:24pm | ! Report

        where is it written that DCE started the fight? Where is this coming from?

    • April 30th 2018 @ 8:25am
      Peter Phelps said | April 30th 2018 @ 8:25am | ! Report

      Where to now for the Manly Warringah Sea Eagles?

      I have now installed the Eagles as my tip for the spoon. Only a brave man would bet otherwise at the moment.

      • Roar Rookie

        April 30th 2018 @ 8:56am
        BA Sports said | April 30th 2018 @ 8:56am | ! Report

        Titans $4.25, Sea Eagles and Dogs are $5. (wish I had got on the Sea Eagles after Rd 2!)

        The Sea Eagles (it appears) will only miss their the Trbojevic boys for one game through the Origin period, but that is their next home game and it is against the Cowboys

        If they can’t win that – you look through their draw and it isn’t until you get to Rd 22 when they play the Bulldogs followed by the Titans and then the Tigers that you can find a possible win or two. If they have three wins to their name coming in to Rd 22, Barrett probably doesn’t have a job so maybe they lift for the interim coach but those three games will be against two other teams possibly playing to avoid the spoon and a third who might be playing to try and sneak into the 8.

        • Columnist

          April 30th 2018 @ 4:23pm
          Mary Konstantopoulos said | April 30th 2018 @ 4:23pm | ! Report

          The Sea Eagles smashed the Eels in Round 2…. they were looking good at that point. Please don’t make me say anything further about this game.

    • April 30th 2018 @ 8:45am
      chris said | April 30th 2018 @ 8:45am | ! Report

      Shame for people dissing a team in a area which is rich in both Rugby League and Union so if Manly goes like North Sydney then let AFL and Soccer take over the Surf crowd area 🙁

      • April 30th 2018 @ 8:54pm
        Peter Phelps said | April 30th 2018 @ 8:54pm | ! Report

        As long as they are replaced by a new club in somewhere like Perth then it would be worth it. You have to doubt the viability of any club who’s fans “won’t cross the bridge” while others are flying in from Townsville, Melbourne and NZ. If that describes the passion of Manly fans then those fans might be better off watching soccor or union.

        • May 2nd 2018 @ 7:43am
          bear54 said | May 2nd 2018 @ 7:43am | ! Report

          To be fair, peninsular folk have always been hesitant to travel beyond the great wall that is the Pacific Highway or in to the city for anything less than life threatening. I have mates here who will dream up excuses to avoid going to Ryde for work. The resentment of Kingsford-Smith for being so far away for an international flight is palpable.

    • April 30th 2018 @ 8:47am
      Chui said | April 30th 2018 @ 8:47am | ! Report

      If the club still exists in 5 years, I will be surprised.

      Greenburg has zero interest in Manly’s survival, as they have no real strategic value, and he’s probably still pi55ed about Manly refusing to toe the line and play at Allianz.

      Notice the different rhetoric over the salary cap. With Parramatta, he couldn’t wait to tell the world how important it was for them to be successful.

      Reality is, Brookvale will likely never be developed, because governments won’t pay for it. Same goes for a training facility.

      The club doesn’t have a pokie den to tip millions in every year.

      Manly have/had Abbott, Baird and Berejiklian as supporters or #1 ticketholdera, and still couldn’t get things done.

      Don’t start me on Cherry-Evans.

      • April 30th 2018 @ 9:14am
        jamesb said | April 30th 2018 @ 9:14am | ! Report

        Manly will be around in five years time. I’ll be surprised if they fold. And why should Manly play out of Allianz? They are called Manly. They are not from Bondi or the CBD.

        They will sort out their problems just like Melbourne, Parramatta, Tigers etc

      • Roar Guru

        April 30th 2018 @ 1:03pm
        spruce moose said | April 30th 2018 @ 1:03pm | ! Report

        Greenburg has zero interest in Manly’s survival, as they have no real strategic value, and he’s probably still pi55ed about Manly refusing to toe the line and play at Allianz.

        What complete nonsense.

        For that logic to make ANY shred of sense, Greenberg would need to be annoyed at Penrith for not playing at ANZ stadium, which of course he’s not. Or he’d need to be mad at Cronulla or St George for not playing at Allianz…and again he’s not.

        There is enormous strategic value. Lose Manly and you’ve conceded every house north of the bridge to the AFL forever.

        Engage brain before typing next time.

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