Manly's senior players demanded more direction and clarity from coach Geoff Toovey in an end-of-season meeting after Toovey's first year at the club.
Centre Steve Matai said props Brent Kite and Jason King were among the players who voiced concerns regarding Toovey's coaching style as the players adjusted to life after the successful Des Hasler era. The players fully supported Toovey but wanted the premiership-winning captain to take more control.
''A few of the boys walked away from training and were questioning each other last year,'' Matai said. ''I thought it was a tough gig to start with, having everything thrust upon him, and I thought he handled it really well.
"We asked that he be more direct at the end of last year": Steve Matai of the Sea Eagles.
''We asked that he be more direct at the end of last year. Kitey and King expressed that he needed to be a bit more direct and clearer about our jobs. He did that as soon as we got back to training, so a lot of credit goes to 'Tooves'.''
Toovey's animation is evident in the coaches' box. He rides every play, at times slamming headsets to finish the games red-faced, as he lays it all on the line after 80 minutes. However, Toovey was far more laconic than the players wanted last year.
''He didn't put his foot down when we needed him to,'' Matai said. ''He was a bit stand-offish. This pre-season, he was enormous. Everything has come from him and he wasn't relying on his assistant coaches. He was the one who set the standards and, when he did that early, we backed him 100 per cent. We are happy.''
"Tooves did well to salvage last season and to produce a reasonable result": Brent Kite.
Manly was bundled out of last year's premiership race with a 40-12 loss to Melbourne, one game shy of back-to-back grand finals. While Toovey has taken on greater control this year, he has relied on assistant coaches David Penna and Brad Arthur - who, in his first year at the club, has helped add extra starch to Manly's forward pack.
Matai said Toovey's transformation had him in line to become just the sixth person in rugby league history to captain and then coach the same club to premiership glory.
''He has done that with his coaching staff in Brad Arthur and Dave Penna, who have been enormous for him as well,'' Matai said. ''He was more direct and a lot clearer about our jobs than last year. The leadership group have done a great job in leading the young kids coming through.''
Although Toovey had served his coaching under Hasler, the two had different coaching styles. Kite said Hasler's shock departure in the days after their 2011 premiership had an impact on the team.
''Tooves did well to salvage last season and to produce a reasonable result,'' Kite said. ''It's not easy [to change coaches]. You've done things under the one guy who is pretty much a strict taskmaster and then change can sort of seem wrong.
''Different people wanted to come in and solve the problem. This year, we've let Tooves do it a lot more with his coaching staff. We've gone back to playing football a bit more and letting Tooves worry about the game plan and strategies.''
Kite said he noticed Toovey was more at ease this year.
''I think the pressure was off him because he knew he had what it took - he probably knew that before knowing him but this year has been a lot easier for him,'' Kite said. ''I think everyone besides Tooves thought we had a disappointing year last year.
''We wanted to be in another grand final and with what went on with Des wasn't great and there were guys who probably thought they could have done better. But Tooves finished with a preliminary finals appearance in his first year.''
Michael Carayannis http://www.smh.com.au/rugby-league/league-news/player-power-why-veterans-told-toovey-to-take-control-20131001-2uqsg.html#ixzz2gVUUFpu2