Sea Eagles in better shape for Hasler rebuild than 2003
DES Hasler will start his second Manly rebuild already in a better position than when he embarked on his first successful attempt 15 years ago.
On the face of it, there appear striking similarities between the Sea Eagles now and the side Hasler took over at the end of 2003.
Manly finished second from the bottom in 2018, their worst year since 2003 when they had the same 7-17 record.
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They’ve also endured a season of drama and off-field distractions, just as they did in what was their first season following the Northern Eagles merger.
But it was from that mess Hasler was able to take Manly to seven finals series, three deciders and two premierships after finishing 13th in his first season.
Des Hasler announced as Manly coach0:00
NRL: The Manly Sea Eagles have announced that Des Hasler will return to coach the club next season.
Crucially, Hasler will be forced to operate below the NRL’s salary cap next year with a $330,000 punishment still hanging over their head — a budgetary challenge that was almost the norm at struggling clubs early last decade.
However, on the field their roster at least appears in far better shape this time around.
When Hasler first began, Brett Stewart was aged 20 and Glenn Stewart 21, but had only three NRL games between them.
In comparison, Tom and Jake Trbojevic are 21 and 24 but are already first-choice picks for Australia.
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A more experienced Hasler will also have Kangaroos halfback Daly Cherry-Evans at his disposal, while Michael Monaghan was trying to establish himself as an NRL player at a new club in 2004.
Anthony Watmough was 20 and on the rise while Steve Menzies was a club legend, but the only other players with representative experience were the ageing John Hopoate and Andrew Walker.
Manly announce their new coach Des Hasler.Source:News Corp Australia
Now Hasler will be able to call upon Dylan Walker, Martin Taupau and rising prop Addin Fonua-Blake.
And while depth remains a concern, the club at least won the under-20s premiership in 2017.
“The roster’s not too bad, it’s had its difficulties but you can only do what you can do. We’ll overcome it,” Hasler said on Monday as he signed his three-year deal.
“You would think watching the games this year they were certainly in and among it.”
The veteran mentor will also have time to make the side his own, with a large number of Manly’s squad off contract at the end of 2019.
Helping that process will also be Noel Cleal, who has returned as recruitment manager after he helped identify and assemble the squad from Hasler’s last dynasty.
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“It’s always a great journey,” Hasler said.
“You don’t know what lies around but over the years and the time that I’ve been coaching you take on board things and you institute things.
“It’s about bringing the best out of people and that’s both players and those that you’re working around.
“I’m quite excited about that. The club has got such a rich heritage, there are such good past players.”
Originally published as Sea Eagles in better shape for Hasler rebuild than 2003
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