Disappointed Sea Eagles to support new coach
Manly players say while they are disappointed for outgoing coach Geoff Toovey they will support his replacement Trent Barrett when he arrives in the off-season.
Daly Cherry-Evans, Jamie Lyon, Brett Stewart and Steve Matai all insisted Toovey had never lost the support of the dressing room and were determined to use the news as inspiration to make a charge for the finals and send Toovey out on a positive note.
Cherry-Evans said despite plenty of rumours circulating throughout the year it didn't make the news any easier to hear when Toovey addressed the playing group on Tuesday.
"It was still pretty gut wrenching to hear your coach isn't going to be here next year," Cherry-Evans said.
"It's been a tough year for everyone involved in the club and probably none more than Geoff Toovey. The only thing we can do now moving forward is send him out on the best possible note and that's winning plenty of games."
Cherry-Evans said when he recently signed his long-term deal to stay at the club he had done so under the impression Toovey would be the coach in 2016, but would support the decision the club had made to bring Barrett in.
"I was under the impression Tooves was going to be here but that being said this club never really makes light decisions – they always make decisions for the best interests of the club," he said.
"As someone who's lucky to be here long-term I'm going to make sure I support any decision they make. That means with a new coach coming in I'll be very eager to get in and hopefully make a great connection with him but that's plenty of months away."
Fullback Brett Stewart said while disappointing it was a relief the speculation was now over.
"He's coach here for the next six weeks and hopefully into the semis. We'll support him throughout this year. The club's made a decision with a new coach next year and we'll support him when that happens," Stewart said.
Asked if it had been a tough time at the club recently, Stewart joked: "It's always tough here at Manly. I've been here 13 years – I don't think there's been a normal week yet!"
He said while 2015 had been more challenging than most, that could serve to bring out the best in the players.
Centre Steve Matai was also in a jovial mood when he fronted media and was asked if the news came as a surprise.
"It's a rumour-ville here at Manly, you don't know what's going on!" Matai said.
"As a group we're happy that everything's now out in the open and we can move forward and start winning a few games.
"We're pretty surprised but at the same time we'd like to wish Tooves all the best and I think the best way we can do that is sending him off with a few wins. There's six weeks left but I'm looking further than that, we've got 10 weeks til the GF so hopefully we can get there."
Matai has been coached by Toovey from his junior days at the club 11 years ago, through Toovey's time as assistant coach under Des Hasler and during the past four years as head coach.
"Tooves is a legend here. He's coached me the whole time I've been here – he was my premier league coach when I first got here. To send him out as a champion would be nice," Matai said.
Captain Jamie Lyon also said the news was a disappointment to the players.
"It's a tough industry and we'd like to have won a few more games over the past few months. He had all our support and we're 100 per cent behind him and we'll try and continue to play well for him," Lyon said.