Sea Eagles coach Des Hasler has refused to blame the ‘Manly Seven’ after his team was flogged 40-6 by Cronulla Sharks at 4 Pines Park on Saturday night.
Asked how the seven players’ refusal to wear a jumper adorned with the rainbow ‘pride’ symbol in a crucial game against the Roosters had affected the club’s season – which has now gone off a cliff after four straight losses – Hasler would not bite.
“We won’t be using that as an excuse,” Hasler said.
“We’re probably missing players as well. We’ve got quite a bit of talent on the sideline.
“But again, we won’t be using that as an excuse.
“We had 17 players out there tonight with an opportunity to win a game of footy.”
Before the round 20 game against the Roosters, Manly had been chugging along nicely.
Since that game, lost 20-10 without seven players who didn’t turn out on religious grounds, the club’s season has dropped off the cliff with embarrassing losses to Parramatta (36-20), Gold Coast (44-24) and now a 34-point hiding by Cronulla.
Hasler insisted that “injuries and a bit of form” was to blame.
“Since that time we’ve lost five players.
“It doesn’t get any easier across the board,” he said.
Asked about “team harmony” in the wake of the controversial decision by seven Manly players to put a knife in their team’s season by refusing to play in a jumper adorned with the rainbow ‘Pride’ symbol, Kieran Foran said: “It’s good!”
“Like in terms of our week of preparation, what we’re getting through during the week in the lead up to the game, when we’re ready to go, we’re really optimistic.
“We were jumping out of our skin before the buzzer tonight.
“But we’re just leaking too many points. There’s too many easy tries. We’ve got to make it harder for them to score. And that’ll give us a chance to stay in the game.
It was a sad last game at Brookvale for Manly stalwarts Foran, Martin Taupau and Dylan Walker. Andrew Davey and Jorge Taufua were also farewelled with a lap of honour post-match.
“It’s not the way we wanted it to go or expected it to go,” Foran said.
“We’re just really down and out, in our tackle efficiency and small areas of our game.
“Some of the tries were pretty soft, you know, just barging over from ten out.
“And then there’s, you know, the disconnect on the edges, and not coming up with the right reads.
“You shouldn’t be leaking 40 points in a game of footy.
“And we’re all really disappointed in that.”
The Sea Eagles to travel to Canberra to take on the Raiders on Saturday with kick-off at 3pm.