Manly's Hasler brushes off his NRL critics
Manly's Des Hasler brushes off his NRL critics (AAP Image/Brendan Esposito)
Washed up. Too intense. Problems with his game plan.
They're all criticisms which were levelled at Des Hasler after his messy exit from Canterbury.
But 18 months on, he has rebuilt his reputation and has Manly firing a third of the way through the NRL season.
The Sea Eagles sit in the top eight heading into their Magic Round clash with Brisbane on Friday, shrugging off the fact they were lightly-rated by the bookmakers and pundits and have incurred a heavy injury toll to key players.
When Hasler was asked if he was a magician, he replied in typical fashion.
"I'm no Phil Cass, though I have heard that. I'm not in that class," he said, referencing the veteran Sydney magician.
Asked about those who painted him as being a spent force, Hasler took a subtle swipe.
"I didn't really hear that... By who? ... Well I didn't hear them, I don't take much notice to tell you the truth. I just get on with it," Hasler said.
Over the past five weeks the Sea Eagles have recorded stirring wins over top four contenders South Sydney and Canberra.
But they arguably face their biggest test yet against an under-siege Broncos side.
Already missing Tom Trbojevic (hamstring), Daly Cherry-Evans (ankle) and Dylan Walker (suspended), they have lost half Lachlan Croker (hamstring) and Addin Fonua-Blake (knee) this week.
"I don't think we're the only side that's experienced that," Hasler said.
"It's a really tough game these days. The way the players prepare, the way they work. You're going to get those injuries regardless of what colours you're wearing."
He was philosophical about what he had done to inspire the Sea Eagles and inject them with a defensive steel which has them achieving above expectation, saying it came down to grit and determination.
"That's all you can ask your players to do, to apply that work ethic and get on with life," Hasler said.
"I'm really pleased with how the players are applying themselves and working hard. And it just shows that if you do that, you get the results.
"There's nothing flying under the radar about that."
© AAP 2019