By STEVE MASCORD
DES Hasler’s departure was suppose to leave Manly on its knees with players lining up to leave.
So even though the Sea Eagles’ premiership defence came to a hault last Friday night, players hailed the year as a success as they qualified for the final four and stars like Brett Stewart and Kieran Foran signed on to stay.
“It happens with every successful side,” prop George Rose said in the wake of the 40-12 preliminary final loss to Melbourne Your value goes up and the salary cap doesn’t.
“It makes it hard. It’s good that all the boys want to stick together and have tried to stick together.”
Darcy Lussick is off to Parramatta, Tony Williams to Canterbury and veteran Brent Kite could be forced into retirement by the salary cap.
But Hasler’s replacement, Geoff Toovey, had a successful debut season.
“It’s been a great year for me and I think the players have done a fantastic job under the circumstances throughout the year to finish the competition in fourth place,” said Toovey.
“It’s a big achievement, I think…
“They’re a great senior playing group who really helped me out this year and full credit to them as players and as a team.”
But those factors don’t save the Eagles players from having an empty feeling in their stomachs.
“Any other team in the comp would be happy to finish in the top four, you know, but coming off the success of last year, you just want that feeling again,” said Rose.
“:Everyone sets high benchmarks for themselves but when you’ve won the comp the year before, you want to do that again. If you’ve come fourth one year, you want to come third or better the year after. I guess this is a little step back … it is the top four though, so we’re still a quality side.
“Next year, we want to go better than the top four.”
Filed for: RUGBY LEAGUE WEEK