Hasler’s first day back a blast from the past
DES Hasler's second coming at Manly has arrived, with the Sea Eagles coach leading NRL training at the club for the first time in seven years as his old band begins to regroup.
Hasler welcomed players back to pre-season training at Narrabeen on Monday, as the club's non-representative players checked in for medicals and a gym session under their new coach.
There was also no sign of Trent Barrett, with the club's still-employed former coach believed to be edging closer to a formal exit after handing in his 12 months' notice in July.
Instead, Manly players were welcomed back by strength and conditioning coach Don Singe, with former halfback Michael Monaghan also unveiled as the club's new pathways and specialist coach.
Recruitment guru Noel Cleal and former hooker Matt Ballin have also been linked with returns to Hasler's staff, with each of the four having been instrumental in Hasler's first stint either as players or coaches.
When Hasler was first a coach at Manly between 2004 and 2011 he turned the club from a rabble to two-time premiers, and a similar challenge awaits him this summer.
"He just brings that experience, that culture," club legend Steve Menzies, who played both with and under Hasler, said.
"I think the squad speaks for itself. Last year at our best we were as good as the top teams ... Just maintaining that all season and during 80 minutes (was the problem).
"We go through great periods and then we lose our way a little bit. Then a team will score three tries like Penrith beat us towards the end.
"That consistency between your best and not best is what Dessie will bring."
Manly are one of nine clubs now back in training, with the Gold Coast, Newcastle and North Queensland all returning on Monday, along with St George Illawarra's younger brigade.
Canberra, Canterbury, Parramatta and the Warriors resumed last week.
But few will arrive back with as much interest as Hasler, who took Manly to seven straight finals series and three deciders before his unceremonious exit from the club after the 2011 premiership.
"He'll bring different aspects. And his level of details he looks at and expectations and all these little unmeasurable factors," Menzies said.
"Your expectations at training and game loads and what he believes you can be and you need to be. That builds a culture and breeds through players.