The Brookvale club lost seven games on the trot to finish the NRL season, and rumours are now swirling about the coach’s immediate future.
This week a bizarre story emerged that Hasler had his football department distribute a survey to players specifically gauging how many of them supported him staying in the role.
The veteran coach is set to sit down with Sea Eagles bosses on Thursday to discuss his contract. He is tied to the Sea Eagles for at least one more season.
“If anything is near true that someone thinks that football club and that team would be a better place without Des Hasler, then I’m an astronaut,” Gould said on Wide World of Sports’ Six Tackles with Gus podcast.
“I can’t understand the thinking with that at all.
“With all the clubs that are currently struggling, and struggling for coaches, and every time someone needs a new coach there’s a struggle to go through the list to see who’s available – to think you’re going to let one of the game’s premier coaches, a Manly legend … given the way the team performed last year, and this year were still in the running to make the eight without Tom.”
The Sea Eagles surprised the NRL in 2021 when they made a big run to finals and finished inside the ladder’s top four.
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But their 2022 season was cruelled the minute superstar fullback Tom Trbojevic suffered a serious shoulder injury before the halfway mark of the campaign, and failed to play another game.
Manly, though, looked to be travelling OK until round 19, when internal friction suddenly came to the forefront.
Seven first-grade players boycotted the club’s game against the Roosters in order to avoid wearing a rainbow-adorned jersey which was designed to celebrate inclusivity in rugby league.
Since that fiasco the Sea Eagles failed to win another game, ending their chances of playing finals.
Through the pride jersey debacle, it was Hasler and captain Daly Cherry-Evans who fronted up to speak to media, and the coach took a thinly veiled swipe at club management for shirking the responsibility.
It was that saga that supposedly led to a divide forming between Hasler and those higher-up.
“It was painful to watch Des Hasler go to a press conference to try to appease everybody who may or may not be effected by the events of that week, including his players and the board,” Gould said.
“I don’t know who made the decision that Des had to front the media on this.
“It was a very painful experience as he tried to apologise to absolutely everyone, and tried to offend absolutely no one, in what was obviously something that blindsided him in preparation for that week.
“All I can say is I don’t think Manly are going to be any better if they let go of Des Hasler.
“I can’t believe anyone in their right mind is going to think Manly is going to be a better team and a better club without Des Hasler coaching that side.”
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