Jersey controversy won’t cost Hasler anything: Penn

Manly boss Scott Penn has backed Des Hasler to save the Sea Eagles’ NRL season, saying fallout from the Pride jersey crisis will not threaten the premiership-winning coach’s job.

Hasler has a continuing contract with Manly, with each Finals appearance automatically triggering an automatic one-year extension further down the track.

Manly’s manager is assured of his job until the end of 2023, meaning if the Sea Eagles fail to make it to the final this year, club management could theoretically look elsewhere for 2024.

Without seven of their stars boycotting because of the rainbow jersey, Manly’s 20-10 loss to the Sydney Roosters left them 10th on the NRL ladder.

Hasler has also spent most of the year without superstar full-back Tom Trbojevic, who has been limited to seven games due to knee and shoulder surgery.

Regardless, Penn said Hasler’s job was not in question and there was no suggestion he wouldn’t stay on as coach beyond next year.

“The reality is he’ll be there as long as he wants and the team is performing well,” Penn told AAP.

“Technically, there’s just an automatic performance-based extension for the following year.

“But he’s under contract, period (and that’s what matters). It’s just that the club has rights if the performance isn’t there.

“He’s absolutely there next year. We’ll take care of (the following years) in the offseason. That’s no problem.”

Hasler will face one of his biggest tests this week trying to unite Manly’s squad after all seven players sat out after refusing to play in the inclusion shirt.

Friday’s game against Parramatta is shaping up to be a must-win, given Manly are one game behind ninth-placed Canberra, who have an easier homecoming.

But the coach’s position is believed to have strengthened over the past week due to his handling of the shirt crisis ahead of Manly’s bold effort.

Known for standing firm alongside his players in all circumstances, Hasler has publicly supported and apologized to the Manly Seven on behalf of the club for the lack of consultation.

“We all know Des loves his players,” Penn said.

“He’s always trying to find an edge to make the most of it. That includes trying to paint the football department against the world.

“He has good form for turning situations into positive outcomes, so hopefully he can do the same.”

Meanwhile, Penn urged fans not to disrespect the seven players when they return against the Eels at home.

The Manly owner will be around the football club this week, while new chief executive Tony Mestrov starts on Monday and is likely to meet all the players.

“The thing is, they should take it easy,” Penn said.

“A week is a long time in football (so I’m not worried). We just have to win, it’s as simple as that.”

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