Anthony Seibold refuses to be drawn into Pride jersey drama as he takes control at Manly

Anthony Seibold has fronted his first press conference as Manly coach with the main topic of conversation, unsurprisingly, still based around the club’s handling of the Pride jersey controversy which ripped the Sea Eagles apart at the seams last season.  

“That’s not for me to talk about at this point of time…that would create a headline, wouldn’t it?” Seibold said.

The former Brisbane and South Sydney coach was appointed to take over from Des Hasler after he oversaw a dreadful run of form which resulted in Manly dramatically dropping out of finals contention. 

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Rumours of fractions within the playing group pervaded across the last few months of the campaign, as the side rounded out the year with seven-straight losses.

This sparked another messy saga whereby Hasler was relieved of his duties after reportedly failing to meet a clause in his deal for a top-six finish that would have automatically given him a one-year extension. 

“It’s safe to say there are no triggers in Anthony’s contract,” the club’s CEO Tony Mestrov said. 

“Anthony is a very smart and astute coach, and we think he is the best coach for our playing group. 

“He’s the right coach from a cultural point of view and also an astute coaching point of view.

“We think Anthony will really connect with the bunch of players we have. We’ve got a different group here than we’ve ever had and we think Anthony’s personality will get the best out of this group.

“Wherever Anthony has been he has built strong relationships with the players- I think that’s really important.”

Seibold claimed he was excited to link up again with the star trio of Daly Cherry-Evans and Tom and Jake Trbojevic having had history with them when he was an assistant to Trent Barrett in 2018.

“There is a lot of potential- there is no doubt about that,” he said.

“We’ve got some of the leading players in the game…Daly Cherry-Evans and Jake Trbojevic were both with the Australian side who won the World Cup. So, there are some really elite guys there.”

However, he admitted the challenge was getting the whole squad on the same page and producing consistent performances. 

“Every single group has potential, but it’s what you get out of it,” he said.

Since being one of the most sought-after coaches in the competition due to his success with the Rabbitohs and subsequent move to Brisbane, Seibold has seen his reputation take a dive within the NRL. 

In the space of just a few years he went from the Dally M Coach of the Year to having the worst win percentage as a coach in Broncos’ history, as he was cut years before a long-term deal was due to expire.

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Yet Seibold was adamant such challenges had been placed firmly in his rear-view mirror, as he prepared for his third time in the hot seat. 

“It’s not about proving people wrong, it’s about proving people right,” he stated.

“We’ve got a group which feels like it can do something…and that’s the picture I want to paint clearly.”

Although all the adjusting of rear-view mirrors in the world couldn’t allow him to avoid the line of questioning which still attaches itself to the background of almost every Manly story. 

“What I do know about every situation that occurs is that education and communication are key,” Seibold said, when discussing his approach to the Pride jersey drama with the playing group. 

“So, when the time is right, and if that needs to be addressed, we’ll be like every family that gets their challenges out on the table.”

Meanwhile, Mestrov attempted to distance the club from any future decisions relating to such matters. 

“If there’s any overarching initiatives, they’ll be run by the NRL,” he said.

“We’ve been in discussion with the NRL, and any initiative will be put forward by them, not us.

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“The NRL will do the consulting. They will speak to the RLPA [Rugby League Players’ Association] and the players and so on rather than a club itself. It works much better that way, we feel.

“There’s no way that for whatever reason the players shouldn’t have been communicated to.

“I think it was important that they cleared the air and that we gave them the freedom to do that to express themselves and what they felt.

“That’s done and we can now get on with the most important thing and what we’re here for, which is winning football games. Anthony is here now, there’s a clean slate and we’re here to win football games.”

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