With fellow bookend Addin Fonua-Blake already parked up for the evening and the sound of Des Hasler’s halftime explosion still ringing in his ears, the last thing Marty Taupau needed was lights out from a friendless loanee.
Des Hasler insists Manly’s big-name absentees can’t be to blame for the Sea Eagles’ third straight loss as he battles to stop his side’s sudden inconsistencies.
Manly have now dropped all three games since Tom Trbojevic and Dylan Walker went down against Canberra, and face at least another three weeks without them.
Powerful prop Addin Fonua-Blake still has another match to run in his ban, meaning he will not face ladder leaders Parramatta on Saturday night.
“I don’t think being down on injuries contributes to making too many errors with the ball,” Hasler said.
“It’s the week in week out performances that I am a bit concerned about.
“Three weeks ago at Campbelltown against the Raiders we were real solid against the Raiders and the next week against Cronulla we weren’t.
“We should have won the game against Newcastle. And (against the Dragons) we started well. I thought our attack… in the first 20 minutes was pretty on song.”
Hasler also indicated he would continue experimenting with his spine while his main men are out, after Brendan Elliot played fullback and Cade Cust five-eighth on Sunday night.
Halfback Daly Cherry-Evans also had a nightmare at Kogarah as the Sea Eagles went tenth on the ladder.
The only experienced man in Manly’s key attacking roles, he twice dropped the ball cold on Sunday night and threw a key intercept to gift the Dragons a try.
It proved a crucial point in the match, after Cherry-Evans broke the line with Manly down 6-4, only for the play to end with the Dragons leading 10-4.
Cherry-Evans could easily have been accused of trying too hard with the calibre of players out around him, but Hasler didn’t believe that was the case.
“It’s not that he’s trying too hard, sometimes you have those games,” Hasler said.
“It’s very rare. But we’ll fix that.
“He’s real professional in the way he goes about his preparation.”