Manly skipper Daly Cherry-Evans said the off-field tension between head coach Trent Barrett and Sea Eagles hierarchy had nothing to do with the poor showing against the Titans at Lottoland on Friday night.
After being on song and leading 22-6 at the 39th minute mark, Manly were overpowered by a resurgent Titans to lose 42-34 after letting in six unanswered tries.
It seemed the squabbles going on inside the Sea Eagles tent might have been leaking into the players' confidence levels about who might be their NRL coach next year.
"Only a player can answer that and it doesn't affect you," Cherry-Evans said. "It honestly doesn't.
"We're paid to do a job and at the end of the day when you cross the white line, any player knows it's business.
"It doesn't matter what is happening. You go out there and do a job the best your can. Headlines don't make you miss tackles. That's just poor footy."
Match statistics revealed that it was in fact the Titans that missed more tackles – 44 to 36 – while Manly made more line breaks (8-5) and more tackle busts (44-35). But that just goes to show that sometimes figures do not tell the whole story.
Match Highlights: Sea Eagles v Titans - Round 23, 2018
Barrett added that he had tried to shield the players from some of the publicity.
"Look, you'd like to think not [affecting playing group] … but headlines are obviously attention around you don't need. But we're not the only club going through it," Barrett added.
Cherry-Evans was asked his personal take on the furore over what the future is for Manly.
"I've got some pretty strong opinions on what's happening but now is not the right time to talk about it," he said.
"Certainly when it's a lot clearer, I'd be more than happy to speak about it to be honest."
Barrett was asked how the club could dig itself out of the hole it finds itself in – seven wins from 23 rounds and rumours swirling about coaching and personnel changes.
"You'd have to ask the club administration about that as well. But from a coaching point of view, I'll keep doing everything I can to ensure the players keep turning up."
He admitted what the small band of faithful Manly supporters witness on Friday night was not pretty.
"We have to be better than that. It was like a game of under 20s there in the second half – with score lines like that," Barrett said of the club's last home game for 2018.
"We haven't had too many pleasant ones here…. We've had a few heart-breaking losses. But that one is hard to take especially when they had worked so hard to get themselves into a good position.
"But the NRL is hard. It goes for 80 minutes and you have to be able to go the distance and we're not."