Delmege backs Hasler to return Manly to glory days
Max Delmege, fondly remembered as Manlys saviour, believes the title could also apply to Des Hasler in what he believes will be a triumphant coaching return at the embattled club.
The Sea Eagles are deep in negotiations with Hasler over a three-year deal which could be formalised by the end of the week. If completed, it will mark one of the most remarkable returns in league history given his contract was terminated after overseeing his last game at the Sea Eagles, the 2011 premiership victory.
The Penn family and Hasler have smoothed over their differences and the former Canterbury mentor is poised for an NRL comeback at the club he spent two decades at as coach and player.
Hasler is expected to bring some of his former staffers, including conditioner Don Singe, back into the fold as Manly attempts to return to the glory days.
Delmege was a club powerbroker for much of Haslers first stint as coach. He was a director and major sponsor when the decision was made to take a punt on Hasler in 2004, a decision that paid rich dividends. Delmege subsequently became a major owner of the Sea Eagles, investing more than $10 million to prevent Manly from folding due to financial dramas. The property magnate believes Hasler is again the man to help the club out of the doldrums.
“He won two premierships for Manly … with the right support staff around him, theres no reason why he cant do it again,” Delmege said.
“When we hired him we were going fairly ordinary, but he had a good support staff and a good, harmonious team.
“Hes a Manly person, through and through. He will be a lot more humble and being that way it will be like starting his career at Manly.
“This is a rebirth with him knowing he has the ability to get the team better. Des is very good at making an ordinary player into an extraordinary player.
“He gets players fit to go the whole 80 minutes. Hes the perfect fit.”
Trent Barrett remains at the helm despite giving more than 12 months notice and the club is yet to make a settlement offer. Barrett has publicly complained about the lack of resources and support at Brookvale, although Hasler won two premierships when the club had inferior infrastructure.
The playing roster – featuring Daly Cherry-Evans, Martin Taupau, Dylan Walker and the Trbojevic brothers – is considered a strong one and Delmege is confident dramatic improvement is possible under Hasler after a 15th-placed finish this season.
“Nobody else fits the bill,” he said.
“Des now got a bit too big for his boots, no question about that, which happens when a lot of people have success. What people who are successful realise is its not just them but everyone associated with the team, its a joint effort.
“Now I think Des will be a lot more humble. In my opinion he is a very good coach and hes the right fit again.
“He was never a Bulldog, that was my opinion and I said at the time that wouldnt work.
“My thoughts are that Im happy that Des is back involved.
“I wish a lot of the old crew that were with him when we turned Manly into a powerhouse also come back there.
“Hopefully whoever is working with Des gives him that support and he gives them that support back.”
Hasler is likely to be the first domino to fall in one of the biggest coaching shake-ups in NRL history. Ivan Cleary has agreed to return to Penrith from 2021, putting pressure on Wests Tigers to move him on immediately. Brisbane is also interviewing for Wayne Bennetts replacement in 2020, with Anthony Seibold, Michael Maguire, Kevin Walters and Jason Demetriou in the mix. There could also be further changes afoot with six coaches coming off contract at the end of next season.
Adrian Proszenko is the Chief Rugby League Reporter for the Sydney Morning Herald.