Manly Sea Eagles chairman Scott Penn, with then CEO Graham Lowe and coach Des Hasler.
Manly Sea Eagles chairman Scott Penn, with then CEO Graham Lowe and coach Des Hasler.

Former Manly boss slams coaching farce

"THERE are no winners, and it highlights something that people took for granted in years gone by and now they don't understand it - and that's honour."

Graham Lowe isn't picking sides in this civil war at Manly, frankly he doesn't care who's to blame.

But he's furious that professional relationships within the NRL are allowed to descend to such farcical depths.

The former coach and CEO of the Sea Eagles sees Trent Barrett and chairman Scott Penn's public slugfest as a symptom of a much larger problem, and that's the lack of loyalty and honour within the game.

"I think that it really highlights a bygone era where you shook hands on a deal and looked each other in the eye and if the deal didn't work you walked away," Lowe said.

"I think that it really highlights a flaw in the current system where everybody is so tied down by a bit of paper.

"In a game that's driven by stats this highlights an area that is equally as important as any stat but it's not taken heed of because you can't measure it - and that's honour, you can't measure that but it's still the most critical thing in the game.

Des Hasler has been appointed head coach at Manly. (AAP Image/Dan Himbrechts)
Des Hasler has been appointed head coach at Manly. (AAP Image/Dan Himbrechts)

"I just think the NRL leads sport on the planet in many ways, it's really positioned itself well. But it can be let down by the basic values which people are forgetting about and that's the power of looking at one another in the eye, shaking hands, and agreeing to a deal."

He recalls packing up and moving across to Brisbane from Otahuhu in New Zealand just on the strength of a call from then Norths president Bob Bax.

"I changed countries a number of times just on a shake of the hands and that's all that's required," he said.

"'Baxy' was possibly Queensland's greatest ever coach and I shifted countries to go and coach there, and I did it without a contract and I did it because I believed what he was saying, and he did it because he believed in what I could do. That mentality took me everywhere."

As it stands at present, Manly is in the absurd position of having two head coaches on the books with Des Hasler signing a three-year deal on Monday, and Barrett contracted to the post until next July.

Lowe believes the homecoming of Hasler (whom he coached between 1990-92) can only help the Sea Eagles.

"Des will do a great job. Des can change it in a moment, there's no doubt about that. Because of the single-minded approach he'll bring," he continues.

A legal fight between Trent Barrett and the club is continuing. (Picture: Adam Yip/Manly Daily)
A legal fight between Trent Barrett and the club is continuing. (Picture: Adam Yip/Manly Daily)

"But in saying that it's a real shame it didn't work with Trent. He's got all the attributes to do the job but at the end of the day this will all be about chemistry, chemistry between individuals breaking down. That's what it looked like to me from the outside.

While he feels for Barrett, he sees his position at Narrabeen as untenable going forward.

"I found (Penn) to be nice fellow, he's a businessman and I found him an honourable man. But in saying that, I think the same of Trent as well. I feel very sorry for Trent because it hasn't worked," Lowe said.

"We saw a similar thing when (the Warriors) sacked Andrew McFadden over here and then kept him on as an assistant. That's the first time I'd ever seen that and I just thought it was ridiculous. It didn't help the club that's for sure."

Lowe said the Sea Eagles hierarchy would do well to remember the direction of the club's godfather Ken Arthurson.

"I always remember when I went back as the CEO at Manly at the end of 2009 and I got a call from 'Arko' on the first day," he said.

"Ken rang me up and he congratulated me on getting the job and then he said 'Don't forget you're not there to win a popularity contest. You're there to make sure the place gets back together and we win a premiership', and that's what happened.

"It's about man-management, it's about being positive and being upfront. You're not in it to win a popularity contest, you're in it to do a job."


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