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Power of one team angry at the world

Discussion in 'Rugby League Forum' started by Rex, Apr 17, 2009.

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  1. Rex

    Rex Well-Known Member

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    By Andrew Webster | April 17, 2009 12:00am

    FOLLOWING his side's loss to the Warriors in round two, Manly coach Des Hasler phoned this office, disgruntled at a single-word adjective that had been attached to Brett Stewart in that day's newspaper.

    Hasler took umbrage at a line about the "disgraced" fullback sitting in the stands as his side were sunk in the final minute at Brookvale Oval.

    The coach wasn't fuming - but he considered it a heavy description given his player had been charged and not convicted with sexually assaulting a 17-year-old girl.

    All coaches are sensitive when it comes to the media. Hasler is known to call journalists shortly after press conferences to ask for a critique of his performance.

    The fact making a call to debate the use of a single word in a story was on his list of things to do - with his side winless in their premiership defence - illuminated the siege mentality that pervades the Sea Eagles.

    Paranoia and distrust are king on the Peninsula as the club recovers from a grubby fight for power in the boardroom, a serious sexual assault charge levelled at its brightest star and a shaky start to its title defence.

    The bizarre press conference following their breakthrough victory against the Wests Tigers last Sunday at Brookvale only hammered home the point.

    Hasler and captain Matt Orford bristled at the most innocuous of questions - and specifically about Stewart and his outstanding performance after a month out of footy.

    "That's the end of it," Hasler said at one stage.

    On one occasion, Orford sarcastically started talking about centre Tony Williams when asked about Stewart.

    Queried about Manly crowd figures, Orford snapped to one scribe: "You're the journalist. You tell me . . . do your research."

    The unspoken context was a story that appeared days earlier about Stewart allegedly being involved in an altercation surrounding a woman at a Central Coast hotel more than a year ago. Manly officials were livid. The club's media manager, Peter Peters, blocked the driveway of the club's training base at Narrabeen when a Channel 7 car tried to gain access the next day.

    "It's a closed session," Peters told the female reporter. "If you knew anything about sport you'd understand that."

    After the match against the Tigers, journalists were blocked from entering the Manly sheds - although the club denies this.

    Many in the media pack were outraged the coach and captain were so defensive, but there is no obligation for a player or coach to provide colourful and effusive quotes if they don't want to.

    The fascination is how the premiers are dealing with the crisis that has beset them, and it is clear their modus operandi in digging themselves out of this deep, black hole is to close ranks and shut out the world.

    It's a mentality not dissimilar to the one the Bulldogs cultivated in 2004 when their season was turned on its head before it started in the wake of the Coffs Harbour rape allegations.

    "It's what (coach) Steve Folkes wanted us to do - and it worked," says one of their players from that season. "The whole thing galvanised us and brought us closer. We shut out the rest of the world and kept everything very tight. And look what happened . . ."

    Of course, the Bulldogs won the premiership that year - but imploded in the seasons that followed.

    Do siege mentalities work? Will it work for Manly?

    It did for the Bulldogs in 1995 when Jarrod McCracken, Dean Pay, Jason Smith and Jim Dymock signed with the ARL during the early days of Super League.

    Coach Chris Anderson turned his back on them at Canterbury League Club that night, walked out without uttering a word and then closed ranks around his side for the entire season. His side won the comp.

    When Ben Cousins crashed in 2007, coach John Worsfold built a wall between his side and the outside world as the criticism flowed in. Captain Chris Judd subsequently walked out, bewildered because his side had failed to address their internal issues.

    "Everything's a legitimate tactic, in love and war," offers one NRL coach. "But how long you can maintain it is the thing. You have to be able to keep it going all season, and that's very hard to do."

    Clearly, it's the attitude Hasler has decided to adopt - it's his choice, of course - and there's nobody at the club who would dare stop him. Many consider him to be the most powerful man at Manly.

    He instructed the board not to suspend Stewart when he was charged and they listened. He wanted chief executive Grant Mayer to stay on and they agreed.

    From a waterboy a few seasons ago, a record Grand Final victory over a side as accomplished as Melbourne has elevated him to untouchable status. Insiders say he is absorbing the outside pressures so it doesn't influence his players.

    Hasler is a driven man who is frugal with his money and meticulous as a coach.

    At training, Manly have a spinning wheel that delivers a penalty for a player who might drop a ball or err on the field. One of them is a dinner date with the coach.

    If anyone can dig them out of this, it's Hasler, who didn't return our calls.

    Manly play South Sydney at ANZ Stadium tomorrow night.

    Mayer confirmed the press will be allowed into the rooms afterwards, regardless of the result. How much they say is another matter.

    ----------------------------
    Dan - tried using submit articles but keep getting "Forbidden Access" error message
     
  2. Dan

    Dan Administrator Staff Member Administrator 2016 Tipping Competitor

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    Rex at what stage do you get the error?

    I replied to your private message the other day
     
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