Manly have sensationally sacked coach Des Hasler in a bitter split and are poised to replace the club legend with ex-South Sydney and Brisbane coach Anthony Seibold.
The board met on Thursday morning and made the decision to part ways with the coach, despite Hasler agreeing to a host of changes for next season.
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Owner Scott Penn and CEO tony Mestrove confirmed the news on Thursday night via a club statement.
“After careful consideration, the board of the Manly Warringah Sea Eagles has today unanimously decided that, in the best interests of the Club, Des Hasler will not be Head Coach of the Club for NRL season 2023,’’ Penn said.
“The board and the Club would like to acknowledge Des and his long history with the Club as a player and as a coach, enjoying two premierships with the Club as a player and taking the Club to two more premierships as a coach.
“We are grateful and appreciative to Des for his dedication to the Club, the team, all of its supporters and the sponsors over a long period of time. Des will always remain an icon of the Club and an integral part of the Club’s history.
“The Club is in discussions with Des and his management to try to reach an amicable resolution which is acceptable to the parties”.
“I also want to thank Des who has been a great warrior for Manly for many years, and everyone wishes him and his family well for the future,’’ Mestrov added.
“To our Sea Eagles corporate partners, members and supporters, we can assure you that the Club is doing everything it can to put in place the foundations for a successful era ahead.
“The board and management are fully aligned with the future direction of the Club and we look forward to positive news in the near future.
“I believe the Sea Eagles have a strong playing group and a list with depth and talent that can be forged into a successful team to challenge for premiership success.”
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The veteran coach – who has a reputation as a micromanager but delivered the Sea Eagles premierships in 2008 and 2011 – was willing to give back some control and work alongside Seibold.
But the board decided they were done with the “damaging media” and the club will reportedly pay Hasler out nearly $1 million.
As things stand, Sebiold remains the England rugby union side’s defence coach and will fly to London this weekend.
Hasler coached Manly between 2004 and 2011 and after a six-season stint at the Bulldogs he returned in 2019, taking the Sea Eagles to a top-four finish last year.
Hasler was contracted until the end of 2023 and a top-six finish this year would have triggered the 2024 option in his deal.
But the pride jersey saga derailed the Sea Eagles’ 2022 campaign as they lost their final seven games to finish 11th.
Manly were firmly in the finals race heading into Round 20 before Josh Aloiai, Jason Saab, Christian Tuipulotu, Josh Schuster, Haumole Olaka’uatu Olakau’atu, Tolutau Koula and Toafofoa Sipley all boycotted the clash against the Roosters on religious grounds.
Hasler has been at war with Manly officials ever since the past two months and is now expected to take legal action against the club.
Penn claimed after the pride jersey saga backed Hasler as the club’s long-term coach, claiming “Des has a contract for as long as he wants”.
But things quickly fell apart afterwards, with a peace meeting between Hasler, Penn and club chief executive Tony Mestrov failing to find a resolution last month.
“It’s been one of the most tumultuous periods in Manly’s history,” Phil Rothfield said on Fox Sports News.
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“The board met at 10:30am this morning and they weighed up all their options, they looked at the damaging media and the leaks at the club in recent weeks and they decided a decision had to be made.
“It’s a really important time for NRL clubs trying to work out everything (for next season) but they’ve been fully held back trying to work out this Des Hasler situation.
“I applaud the board, they’ve brought it to a head today. Tony rang Des Hasler’s manager after the meeting and the paperwork for his termination is just being finalised by lawyers now.
“If you were going to break it down, the pride jersey would certainly be 75 per cent of it.
The owner Scott and Rick Penn they obviously have deep pockets because it’s going to cost them nearly a million dollars to write a cheque to Des because Des hasn’t breached his contract at all.”