Des Hasler has welcomed the return of a more "controlled" Dylan Walker, who had the last laugh over a vocal Cronulla crowd as he begins playing for his NRL supper.
Walker finished with a try and a points decision over NSW Origin hopeful Josh Morris in Manly's 24-14 upset of the Sharks on their own turf.
In his first Telstra Premiership game this season since he was found not guilty of domestic violence charges last week, the off-contract centre's every touch was booed, though he did draw a Bronx cheer when he struggled to recover from a heavy tackle in the first half.
One of the game's more polarising figures, Walker's off-field history undermines his status as a premiership-winning, representative centre who can turn his talents to five-eighth when needed.
His future beyond 2019 remains clouded, with NRL rivals understood to be wary of both his lucrative price tag and the off-field baggage that has mounted in recent years.
Whether he stays at Manly will also hinge on how he handles his return to the paddock, the Sea Eagles looking to begin contract discussions in the next fortnight with Walker and his management.
Match Highlights: Sharks v Sea Eagles
But Hasler saw positive signs in the 24-year-old's first hit-out on Sunday.
"It always helps when you win but I thought he was very controlled," Hasler said of Walker's response to a hostile crowd reception.
"He got really involved with early touches. He scored a try and to score that try you’ve got to be in that right position.
"I thought he was very good for his first game back. He was controlled and everything he did today he got a result off it. It’s always good to get back and have a win behind it as well."
Hasler said skipper Daly Cherry-Evans was unlikely to return from syndesmosis surgery for Friday's clash with the Gold Coast after running for the first time this weekend.
The Titans clash is the last chance for Cherry-Evans to get game time in before Queensland's Origin I side is picked, but Hasler backed his No.7 to be available for the Maroons by game in 17 days' time.
"That's obviously what we're working towards, to get him back onto the field but there are a lot of boxes we need to tick along the way," Hasler said.
"He's very professional in the way he goes about things. If anyone's going to pull it off it will be someone like Cherry."