NRL's expansion doubts

Winging it
NOEL "Crusher" Cleal shakes his head in disbelief. The burnt friendships, the accusations of betrayal.

Yes, big Crusher is following Des Hasler to the Bulldogs. No, he won't be made to feel like he's done the dirty on his beloved Sea Eagles.

Drama could have been avoided: Noel Cleal. Picture: Manly Daily

And for all those wanting to point the finger at Hasler for having the hide to take his support staff with him to Canterbury, Crusher last night went on the record with a dose of reality.

"Look, I'm not a person to cause confrontation but it is sad to see what has happened here. It shouldn't have happened," he said. "But anyone who has left Manly has done so on their own accord. No one has been forced.

"For me, I had fears that people from board level were going to try and get involved in recruitment. Now Dave Perry was pretty vocal in the fact he was going to be in charge of all negotiations. I had concerns. The board should be one ship, one captain. But at the moment it's one ship and a few captains. That's one problem."

And here's the other problem.

"Did Des want to stay? Of course he did," Cleal continued. "But not signing Des is where this all started and f ... knows where it's going to end.

"You think, we won the grand final five weeks ago and it feels like five years. And that's the sad part.

"But this never would have happened if (the board) had gone out and said; 'Des, here's a contract. How long do you want?'

"There has been lifelong friendships burnt and that worries me. I think about the people I have been involved with for 20 years and particularly the last eight years.

A lot of those friendships are strained now because of what has occurred. It's a tough one because what has been built in the last eight years has been pulled down in a matter of weeks because the board didn't sign Des back in May or even April. I mean, of course it could have been averted.

"Friendships have been broken and that's the sad part but we will be sitting around in 10 years time having a beer and reflecting on this period and the success we had. In 10 years time I know I will be sitting down having a beer with Geoff Toovey, of course I will. But you can say I am excited going to Canterbury. We are Manly people but we are professionals. Like everybody, we have to pay the bills."
Team P W L PD Pts
3 3 0 35 6
3 3 0 32 6
2 2 0 29 6
3 2 1 14 4
2 1 1 5 4
3 2 1 2 4
3 2 1 0 4
3 2 1 -7 4
2 1 1 -8 4
3 1 2 1 2
3 1 2 -3 2
3 1 2 -9 2
3 1 2 -14 2
3 1 2 -22 2
3 1 2 -25 2
3 0 3 -12 0
3 0 3 -18 0
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