“I have no intention of doing anything otherwise, than seeing Geoff honour that two-year contract.” These were the words Manly Sea Eagles CEO Joe Kelly so confidently voiced to fans at a Q&A ahead of their Round 5 match against the Canberra Raiders back in April. Now with a 1-5 record thus far that sees the club sit bottom of the competition ladder, there no longer appears to be a focus on the security of Geoff Toovey’s job as Head Coach, but rather who will replace him.
The Manly Sea Eagles have endured a difficult and unfortunate start to the 2015 National Rugby League competition. The club has seen numerous off-field issues force a successful stranglehold on player morale that has in-turn had a significant effect on the performances on the field. Couple this with the devastating injury list that has plagued the likes of Jorge Taufua, Feleti Mateo and club captain Jamie Lyon, and this apparent problem becomes all the more difficult solve.
But while Toovey cannot be held responsible for the injuries his playing group may sustain, at the end of the day this competition and his job alike are all based on results. With just two points from a maximum twelve thus far, occupying the wooden spoon may seem strange for a club that has seen plenty of success in recent seasons. Since Toovey’s appointment as Head Coach back in 2012 the club has finished runners-up in the 2013 season, and been eliminated at the semi-final stage on another two separate occasions. With this track record of results for the ‘Silvertails’ it yet again poses question marks on just where it has all gone wrong. Every match from here on in could very well be Geoff Toovey’s last as the Manly boss and this Friday night’s clash with the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs will be crucial to he and his team’s cause.
The Bulldogs, ironically led by former Manly Head Coach Des Hasler, have been a mixed bag with three wins and three losses thus far in the competition. Last week’s 31-6 capitulation against an in-form St. George Illawarra Dragons outfit signalled significant concerns over the ability of halves Trent Hodkinson and Josh Reynolds. While injury may serve as a telling factor to explain the latter’s dismal displays, Hodkinson in particular is finding it difficult to replicate his stellar feats of last season. If the Dogs are to leave ANZ Stadium the victors come Friday night, it seems the Origin-winning halfback will need to produce a performance of the highest quality.
These two sides last clashed back in Round 3 at Brookvale Oval and on that particular occasion it was the Bulldogs who prevailed 16-12. If the performances of either side on that night are anything to go by, then perhaps this rematch will be contested in a similar physical and tightly contested fashion. For the Bulldogs, Des Hasler and co. will be hoping to heap more displeasure on the Manly faithful, return to winning ways and re-enter the eight after recent back-to-back defeats. For Manly however, a win would mean the world of good for a side in desperate search for a positive change in fortunes.
The foundation for Friday night’s encounter appears poised for a battle that carries serious repercussions should Geoff Toovey’s side accept defeat come the full-time siren. The Sea Eagles, with the worst attack and second-worst defence in the league, will be buoyed by the return of Jamie Lyon to the line-up and should look to avenge their semi-final defeat to Des Hasler’s men last season with a priceless win. However, should they fail, consider Toovey’s cause for calm to turn to calamity and that aforementioned two-year contract to be all but prematurely over.