Only now the dust has settled on the fallout from Des Hasler’s departure and the new man in charge, Anthony Seibold, has helmed his first press conference in Manly colours, can the club finally move on, according to Sea Eagles legend Steve Menzies.
“As tough as it was to go through that, I really think it’s an exciting new era for the club,” he told Sky Sports Radio’s Big Sports Breakfast.
Manly started last season with back-to-back defeats, before embarking on a four-match winning streak which ignited hope of another successful year after they got to within one game of reaching the grand final in 2021.
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However, inconsistent performances and a shoulder injury to Tom Trbojevic put paid to their best-laid plans as they were unable to string more than two wins together after round six.
The controversial Pride jersey incident infamously split the club in two halfway through the campaign and it proved to be decisive with Manly losing their last seven matches to miss out on finals spot altogether.
This culminated in the sacking of Hasler with civil war threatening to break out between the coach and the board over unfulfilled obligations and contract clauses.
“They did alright at the beginning part of the season and then it all went downhill fast,” Menzies said.
“It’s been a tough three to six months…but the club obviously had to move forward.”
Hasler eventually exited from the hot seat at Manly for the second time and was quickly replaced by Seibold, while a brand-new coaching staff was installed around the former South Sydney and Brisbane mentor.
MORE: Anthony Seibold refuses to be drawn into Pride jersey drama as he takes control at Manly
“It’s never good when one of the legends of your club leaves,” Menzies admitted. “But they’ve got Seebs, Shane Flanagan and Jim Dymock- they’ve got a pretty good coaching staff.”
One man who won’t be joining that trio is Laurie Daley, after the NRL integrity unit ruled out the possibility of him being affiliated to an NRL club due to his ties with TAB.
Menzies labelled the decision “outrageous” while joking how there needed to be further investigation into the matter.
“We need Geoff Toovey here- that’s what we need,” he laughed.
Meanwhile, Daley himself addressed the issue, stating how he felt he could have provided a lot to Manly if given the opportunity to do so.
“I’m not allowed to have association because of the links to TAB,” he told News Corp.
“They have strict codes when it comes to players, coaches or officials being involved in the game and being involved with betting agencies.
“I think I would have had a lot to offer. But at the end of the day, the rules are that I can’t do it, so I have to play by those rules and accept the decision.”
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After finishing in 11th place on the ladder, the coaching overhaul orchestrated by the hierarchy is expected to yield immediate results.
“It’s not a three-year plan to play finals – it’s let’s do it next year,” Menzies insisted.
Regardless of any change of approach Seibold and his coaching staff opt to take though, their success will be heavily reliant upon Trbojevic featuring at fullback.
The No.1 has been in devastating form in recent years but has too often found himself on the sidelines plagued by injury. In fact, he has missed 53 games over the past four seasons with Manly losing 35 of those.
“We need him on the field,” Menzies said.
“He’s looking as big as ever – he’s a big human. He was talking that training has been pretty tough – he actually said it’d been pretty ruthless.”
It’s no secret the Sea Eagles struggle without their talisman, conceding more points when he isn’t there at the back to marshal the defensive line, while also being far less potent in attack having scored over six less points on average without him in the side.
Although, Menzies noted how the over-reliance on Turbo needs to end with Seibold required to come up with contingencies in case he is missing for large chunks of the season once again.
“He needs to keep evolving as a player,” he said. “He can’t just be the number one choice for where the ball goes.
“Him and DCE [Daly Cherry-Evans] and those boys are smart enough to build a bit of a game plan around how to use him.
“They’ve got high hopes down there, I’m sure.”