Manly coach Trent Barrett may be at loggerheads with the club's management but had only praise for the playing group following their 22-20 loss to the Wests Tigers in Campbelltown Stadium.
After a dismal week surrounding Barrett's legal battle with the club over his contract, and their eight-point loss to the Titans at Lottoland after leading by 16, the Sea Eagles rallied to almost cause an upset in Sydney's south-west.
Barrett has made no secret of the fact his issues at the Sea Eagles are not player-related, and he re-iterated that to the media following Thursday night's loss.
"I think everyone knows what I think of the players and I love the blokes I've got there," Barrett said.
"We've had our fair share of adversity to deal with this year, and they don't give up and that's what makes it hard to take.
"I feel for them because they put themselves in positions to win so many games this year and they haven't been able to get over the line. I can count probably eight [games] that are just like that."
Barrett pointed out the side has battled an injury crisis throughout the year that included them fielding the youngest side in terms of NRL games experience and average age.
He also rued three disallowed tries and missed opportunities in the Tigers loss.
"Experience is something we're light on. Experience will give you an idea of what to do," Barrett said.
"Momentum in the game today is huge. You see a lot of teams in strong positions to win the game, lose it. That's happened to us quite a number of times this year. Our players need to learn how to change that.
"There's a lesson in it for a lot of our young blokes because a footy career can go extremely quickly and you've just got to take your chances when they come.
"There is a talented playing group in there, they do love playing for each other, they prepare well. If they keep doing that things will turn around."
Barrett said he wanted to make a statement around his future "sooner rather than later" after remaining quiet on the matter for legal reasons over the past fortnight, but added the experience of coaching this season had taught him a lot as a person.
The Sea Eagles play their final match of the season against the Broncos next Sunday at Suncorp Stadium.