Sea Eagles hope honesty session will help avoid wooden spoon
Manly believe a players-only honesty session after their horror loss to the Roosters is exactly what was required to restore some pride in their performances as they look to avoid the club's first wooden spoon.
The Sea Eagles conceded five unanswered tries in the first 25 minutes of the eventual 56-24 defeat, which was made more painful by the fact their home crowd booed them off at half-time – on Old Boys' Day, at that.
Monday morning's video review was, from all accounts, uncomfortable viewing – but once the coaches left, the players took things even further by opting to stay back and go over it themselves.
"It was disappointing coming in Monday and going over the review but we had a good meeting there and had a good honest session amongst the players and there was a good response from that," playmaker Trent Hodkinson said on Wednesday.
"[It was] just the players. It was good, we got a lot out of it, had the day off [Tuesday] to take it all in and back on the field today, we've got two sessions before Penrith, we're going to have to make them quality sessions and go from there.
"We broke down the game and certain parts. There was clips already broken down and we had to speak about them, what we could have done here, what we could have done there.
"We had to try and stay positive as well but you've got to tell the truth at the same time.
"It wasn't fun going in there seeing the pictures that we saw but you've got to say the right things, you've got to be positive and say the truth and put it out there and we did that. When you look at yourself on the pictures it can be a bit embarrassing but a good eye-opener."
Veteran back-rower Joel Thompson was even more to the point.
"We just needed to speak about how poor we were on Sunday and take ownership of that," he said.
"Take some responsibility as individuals, missing some of them one-on-one tackles, lazy shit through the ruck that wasn't acceptable.
"It was a chance for the young guys to start finding their voice because it's a ruthless sport and if they're not going to take ownership and speak up about what's going wrong we're going to get another performance like that.
"You need to [be up front]. It's a brutal game, if you're going to -sugarcoat things you're going to get another performance like that.
"It was a poor performance, it was embarrassing in front of the ex-players that were there. It was hard to go and look them guys in the eye after the game to dish up what we did."
Thompson said he certainly wasn't exempt from taking responsibility.
"Yeah, I dropped the ball trying to ball-play when I'm not a ball-player and I took ownership, I said that's bullshit and it will never happen again from me and that's what we need, not just the young guys but the older guys, me, Chez [Daly Cherry-Evans]."
The session was a learning experience for everyone but particularly the younger players, some of whom ideally would not have been rushed into first grade yet but need to find their voice quickly, Thompson added.
One of those is talented young playmaker Tom Wright, who was hooked after 22 minutes following defensive lapses that directly contributed to two Roosters tries.
"It's good for them to learn about how ruthless this sport can be," Thompson said.
"It comes back to him now, what does he want to do with that, being hooked … train hard and get back into first grade? That's what we need to see - him put his hand up and grow from it."