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Renouf: How Hasler's mastery has Sea Eagles flying high

Des Hasler is back where he belongs at Manly. It just seems like the perfect fit.

He is a Manly stalwart. He has been there before and done it, winning two titles as player (1987 and 1996) and two as a coach (2008 and 2011).

If you go back to when Des was appointed there were those who thought it was a risk after he had a lean year or two at the Bulldogs. It has turned out to be a masterstroke.

I look at what Hasler has done with this Manly team and where they were when he took over. He has turned them right around. It is as though he never left.

It is timely that this week he goes down to Melbourne to take on Craig Bellamy's Melbourne. Those two clubs played each other twice in grand finals when Des was at Manly in the 2000s.  

Hasler and Bellamy have a lot in common. They are both highly competitive and passionate, have the ultimate respect from their players and know how to get the best out of them year-in and year-out.

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It took a few weeks this season for Manly to adjust to having a new coach and playing system.

We saw it take longer for Brisbane and Penrith, but ever since round three the Sea Eagles have been up there with the Rabbitohs and Roosters when it comes to wins.

It is a credit to Des that the team has had so much success with Tom Trbojevic only playing six games so far this year.

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That is a huge achievement because Tom's absence has robbed Manly of their best attacking weapon and I have always believed that in tandem with his brother Jake, the Trbojevic's are the best one-two attacking punch in the game.

Their skipper and playmaker, Daly Cherry-Evans, was also out for an extended period with injury but despite that Manly have still played attractive - and winning - football.

One of the best attributes of Des, like Bellamy, is his ability to get the best out of players who are virtual unknowns and to revive the careers of those who have experienced a dip in form.

Winger Jorge Taufua and forward Curtis Sironen are back playing some of their best footy. Young centre Moses Suli is lapping up Des's wisdom.

Suli had issues at other clubs with his training and fitness and had to be disciplined by Des earlier in the year. I'm sure Hasler said it is "my way or the highway". Now he has got him fit and firing. He has turned his attitude around and that goes for the rest of the team.

Tom Trbojevic is starring for the Sea Eagles.
Tom Trbojevic is starring for the Sea Eagles. ©Gregg Porteous/NRL Photos

I hadn't heard much of Reuben Garrick or Cade Cust before this year but Cust has impressed in the halves and Garrick is a now a regular and has scored 11 tries in his 17 games on the wing.

Des has convinced Martin Taupau and Addin Fonua-Blake that they can really dominate up front and we have seen them do that all year.

Man management is a big part of a coach's job and Des is obviously very good at it.

He can come across as a bit eccentric at times but individually he must be able to get in the heads of his players and get them heading in the right direction.

Manly may be one of nine Sydney-based clubs but they on their own on the northern beaches.

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They're in Sydney but are a community on their own. You look back at Manly’s successful coaches right back to the legendary Ken Arthurson and you find they are often guys who have played for the club.

Bob Fulton, Hasler and Geoff Toovey are all club greats and premiership winners. It just seems to be the Manly way.

Again this week, Hasler will be talking to his players about what it means to be a Manly player as we do in Brisbane about what it means to be a Bronco.

Both clubs expect success and Des is on his way to taking the Sea Eagles to another finals series and making a real impact when they get there.

Acknowledgement of Country

National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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