‘We needed someone who could help galvanise the players’: Penn praises Seibold, takes swipe at Des
Manly owner Scott Penn has taken a thinly veiled swipe at former coach Des Hasler by praising his successor, Anthony Seibold, for galvanising the young Sea Eagles and getting them to believe in themselves.
Hasler and Penn’s relationship deteriorated further towards the back end of last season, with reports Hasler locked Penn out of the Brookvale dressing room when things hit rock bottom. That came not long after Hasler put noses out of joint when he said the club’s management had mishandled the rainbow jersey saga.
Penn returned from the US on Wednesday and made the trek up the M1 with his father, Rick, to watch the club he owns win their second trial against the Sydney Roosters on Friday night.
While quick to point out it was only a pre-season hit-out, Penn praised the changes in the side brought about by Seibold.
“We’re not getting ahead of ourselves, but in the first 10 minutes tonight you could see they were all playing for each other, and that’s all we can ask for,” Penn told The Sun-Herald
“That’s why we picked him. We needed someone who could help galvanise [the group] and get the younger players to believe in themselves and bring them through. Anthony is doing a terrific job.”
Hasler prided himself on being a hands-on coach and doing things his way, but Penn said Seibold was not afraid to lean on his assistants, Shane Flanagan, Steve Hales and Jim Dymock.
“Obviously he has Shane, Jim and Halesy, so we have the complete package,” Penn said. “But he [Seibold] knows where his strengths are and where some of the other guys can add some value. That’s what we were looking for.”
Manly appeared a fractured group after the pride jersey fiasco last year. Seven players refused to wear the rainbow strip, designed to promote inclusivity, and the northern beaches club lost its final seven games and missed the finals.
After they defeated the Roosters on Friday, it was a very different scene, as Manly players refused to pose for a team photo until they were joined by all the injured players and support staff on the sidelines.
Manly star Tom Trbojevic, who declared himself a certain starter for the round one clash against the Bulldogs on Saturday week, said he could have played against the Roosters if needed, and agreed with Penn’s observation about the group being tight-knit in 2023.
“Scott has been around the club a long time and seen a lot of Manly teams, so he knows what he is talking about,” Trbojevic said.
Trbojevic did not feature in the two trials but completed a full session on Friday, Thursday’s captain’s run and another hit-out on Saturday. He spent two weeks working with reconditioning specialist Bill Knowles in Philadelphia, where Penn visited from his New York base.
Penn was not prepared to buy into comments made by club legend Peter Peters about why the Sea Eagles should consider cutting their No.1 loose if he continued to be plagued by injuries. “I don’t need to go there, and Tom is here long term ... we are looking forward to seeing him back on the field,” Penn said.
‘Turbo’ said: “I’ve been doing everything – there are no boxes left to tick, and I could have played on Friday night.”
Seibold welcomed the looming return of Trbojevic and inclusion of Daly Cherry-Evans for round one, and quickly dismissed any fears his fullback might be underdone, especially given his last NRL game was in May last year.
“He’s got enough in the bank to play 80 minutes; he’s an elite athlete,” Seibold said. “Tommy trained a full session on Tuesday, a full session on captain’s run. We’ve got 15 days now.”
The coach also confirmed the Herald’s report during the week about a potential Nathan Brown and Morgan Harper swap, but said it was no longer on the table and that the switch was proposed by the Eels.
Manly owner Scott Penn jetted in from the US and immediately loved the changes happening under Anthony Seibold while taking a swipe at former coach Des Hasler.