Why Manly should get Hasler or Toovey back if Barrett walks
There are only 16 coaching jobs in the NRL so Manly will have little trouble finding a replacement if Trent Barrett quits at the end of the season but what his departure would suggest is the Sea Eagles need someone familiar with the club.
It’s been a long time since Roy Masters gave Manly the "Silvertails" nickname after their poaching raids on his Western Suburbs side nearly four decades ago but they are no longer living up to that title dripping of entitlement - the Eagles are the only NRL club without a full-time recruitment and list manager.
The failure of the club to secure the services of Peter O’Sullivan for the role, the loss of GM of football Gareth Holmes to Canterbury, ongoing salary cap problems and below-standard training facilities are reasons Barrett is considering walking.
Barrett has asked for Manly CEO Lyall Gorman and the club’s board to address those issues but as the season comes to a close, a decision on his future needs to be made.
The Sea Eagles issued a brief statement on Wednesday which said the club was dealing with Barrett’s complaints and remained focused on ensuring the best possible finish to the season for the team.
With Barrett declining to comment, it appears his preference is to secure better resources for himself and Manly’s players during the remaining two years of his contract.
The former Test five-eighth, who joined the Sea Eagles after doing his coaching apprenticeship at Penrith, had been linked with the Canterbury and South Sydney jobs at the end of last season but NRL.com has been told Barrett never intended to leave Manly.
However, his manager Wayne Beavis was concerned for Barrett’s reputation and health if the Sea Eagles couldn’t provide him with greater resources.
Beavis is understood to have issued a legal letter to Manly management outlining obligations to Barrett the club had failed to fulfil.
Penrith executive general manager Phil Gould, who recommended Barrett for the Sea Eagles job and has a long relationship with Beavis, said they had been seeking a resolution since mid-season.
"As I understand it he and his manager have got legal advice and they have gone to the club to say that this is where the club has fallen short on its obligations, not just to Trent Barrett but to the players," Gould said on the Six Tackles with Gus podcast on Nine.
"As to where that stands, I don’t know that Trent has quit at this stage. There is speculation that this will be his last year there, that he will leave at the end of the season, but from what I know he has certainly informed the club of his unhappiness with a lot of the things that have gone on there and with duty of care to the players.
"Trent has looked like a coach under enormous stress this season. I can understand that, and from what I know he has been doing a lot of things that other staff should be doing but they just don’t have the people there, or the facilities or the systems in place, just to allow the coach to coach the side.
"If Trent just had to coach the team, it’s something he does very comfortably but I understand that he has had to cover for a lot of other things that should be done by other people."
It is understood at least one high-profile coach has indicated he would not be interested in a coaching role with Manly if Barrett was to leave due to the club’s lack of resources but former Sea Eagles coaches Des Hasler and Geoff Toovey remain options.
Hasler and Toovey each played for Manly and coached the club for a combined 12 seasons from 2004 until Barrett’s appointment in 2016 so both would at least know what are getting into if they were to be given the job.
Toovey has indicated he would be interested in returning to coaching at Manly and he believes Hasler would be in the same boat after the abrupt end to his stint at the Bulldogs nearly 12 months ago.
"I’d definitely put my resume in, of course," Toovey told Fox League last Sunday. "But I think Dessie would be putting his hand up, there would be a stack of people in there.”
"There would be people lining up to take the job, there would be people lining up down to Brookvale."
The last time Manly's stocks were so low was after the failed Northern Eagles merger, when Hasler took over from Peter Sharp in 2004.
Like Barrett, Sharp had no background at Manly and had been appointed after the resignation of club legend Bob Fulton in 1999.
Fulton coached the Sea Eagles for 13 seasons in two stints separated by three years from 1990-1992, in which Grahame Lowe was in charge after the former New Zealand mentor became the first Manly coach in more than 20 years not to have played for the club.
Fulton guided the Sea Eagles to five grand finals, winning two in 1987 and 1996 - a feat equaled by Hasler in 2008 and 2011 before his departure for Canterbury.
Toovey, who had been Hasler's assistant, took over the top job in 2012 and steered Manly to the 2013 grand final.