Pound for pound, he was the toughest player to ever pull on a Manly jumper. And after sitting back for months and watching cheap shots aimed at his players and his own coaching credibility, Geoff Toovey has had a gutful.
Sea Eagles boss Joe Kelly publicly guaranteed Toovey’s job until the end of 2016 and categorically denied any interest in signing Brad Arthur or Des Hasler, as Toovey conceded he was “upset” by what he labelled attempts to discredit his club.
New CEO, Joe Kelly with Manly Sea Eagles Chairman, Scott Penn. Picture: Bradley Hunter
“To say I have lost the dressing shed I think is ridiculous,” a clearly fed up Toovey told The Daily Telegraph.
“I am upset that people would try and discredit this club again and try and create instability.
“You would have to look for the (real) reason why people would want to create such instability.
“Is it forces outside our club trying to create instability so they can poach some of our players?
“The players internally know the untruths about the whole situation.”
There has been speculation Manly have sounded out Arthur and even Hasler about a possible return to replace Toovey if the Sea Eagles fail to fire in 2015.
But on Wednesday Kelly point-blank denied Toovey was under any pressure.
Asked if Toovey would see out his contract, Kelly said: “Absolutely.
He is on a contract for two more years.”
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Asked if there was any truth to the rumour they were hunting Arthur, Kelly said: “No truth.”
So Toovey’s job is 100 per cent safe?
“Absolutely,” Kelly maintained.
Toovey was also adamant all players were on board after the difficulties of last year, including Brett Stewart.
“He has been training the house down and he has a great attitude,” Toovey said.
“I think we are going to have a big season from him.
“I had a couple of the senior players come in today (following reports he had lost the dressing room) and they said; ‘this is crazy, what’s going on’.
Geoff Toovey in the players lounge at the NRL Auckland Nines. pic Mark Evans
“And I said you can’t stop people trying to create instability.
“(The players) are very upset that these things are being written about them but with such a successful club, people do try to bring you down.”
In Toovey’s three years in charge since taking over from Hasler, Manly haven’t missed the finals.
They made the grand final in 2013 and last year got knocked out by the Bulldogs in golden point.
Toovey does not hide from the fact last year was extremely emotional given the circumstances that surrounded Glenn Stewart and Anthony Watmough’s departure, but he maintained the players were now focused.
Even amid the circus surrounding off-contract halves Kieran Foran and Daly Cherry-Evans.
Kelly revealed the club had officially made formal offers to both Foran and Cherry-Evans.
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Asked if it was financially possible to keep both, Toovey said: “I am hoping so and the quicker it can be decided the better for all concerned.”
There has also been talk some of the club’s outdated and under-resourced facilities were another reason the star halves might want out.
Since coming over from South Sydney, Kelly has seen first-hand the challenge facing the players and coaching staff compared to what he left behind and as a result he has given the go-ahead to pump about $500,000 annually into off-field medical and rehab improvements.
Yet Toovey was also adamant sports science alone was not the sole secret to the Sea Eagles’ ongoing success.
“As I tell the players who come here, there is more to this club than just playing football,” Toovey said.
“Some things could be better but it is a great place to work and live and it is also what you do away from football that is important.”