Sea Eagles fans are nervous amid growing speculation that superstar brothers Jake and Tom Trbojevic could be looking for a fresh start elsewhere in the NRL as Manly is mired in internal disputes.
Both are under contract in massive deals worth over $1million a season until the end of 2026, but local juniors from Sydney’s Northern Beaches are said to be upset by the club’s ongoing politics.
With the embattled manager Des Hasler unlikely to stay at Manly beyond next season, rival clubs are watching the simmering situation with interest.
The dynamic siblings would not be short of offers as Jake is currently in Britain ahead of the World Cup with the Kangaroos while 2021 Dally M winner Tom recovers from a shoulder injury.
Chairman Scott Penn appears determined to see Hasler – a club legend – out the door sooner rather than later, with Anthony Siebold being his likely successor.
Whether it’s from next season or 2024 has yet to be decided, with the decision in the hands of the two-time Premier League-winning coach.
Hasler is believed to have had until Friday to tell the club whether he will remain in charge of one more campaign – or leave immediately – as part of a succession plan outlined by club management.
And in a development that will send shivers down Manly fans’ spines, the club would have agreed to proposed clauses in the Trbojevics’ player contracts, which see Hasler at the helm, and the siblings could have switched at the same time as the manager, SMH reported.
The application was denied at the time, and the Mona Vale Raiders juniors later put pen to paper.
But with some club officials questioning the value of full-back Tom Trbojevic given his injury woes in recent years, the 26-year-old is said to be “losing patience” quickly.
Jake Trbojevic is 28 and desperate to win a Premier League with Manly – but if the future looks bleak he should be weighing his options at the peak of his career.
Hasler is under contract until the end of 2023 and would have earned an extension to 2024 with a top-six finish this year.
But the Rainbow Pride kit fiasco in July derailed Manly’s season as the Sea Eagles lost their last seven games to finish 11th – a sharp drop from the 2021 provisional final.
Hasler is also believed to be considering legal action against the club over his role in unfolding the Pride shirt saga, arguing the fallout from the controversy effectively prevented him from guiding the team into the top six and thus one to trigger a contract extension into 2024.
It emerged on Tuesday that the club’s general manager of football, John Bonasera, knew about the Pride jerseys as early as May this year – but did not inform Hasler.
Seven players — Josh Aloiai, Jason Saab, Christian Tuipulotu, Josh Schuster, Haumole Olakau’atu, Tolutau Koula and Toafoa Sipley — refused to wear the Pride jersey due to religious and cultural beliefs — and retired from a competitive game against the Roosters.
Chaos and finger pointing ensued, and Manly’s semi-final hopes were soon dashed.
As the Sea Eagles power struggle rages on, there will only be one winner – Penn.
Hasler, also a two-time Premiership winner as a Manly player, deserves better but he won’t fight a fight he can’t win.
Siebold, who “won” a wooden spoon during a disastrous spell with the Broncos two years ago, was a former assistant coach at the club and lives nearby.
He was painted by the club management as a man with ‘male DNA’ – whether the fans will get enough of it is questionable whether he will succeed Hasler.