Manly coach Trent Barrett says the NRL club’s salary cap drama won’t distract his players.Manly coach Trent Barrett insists he won’t let the club’s salary cap sanctions distract players ahead of Saturday’s clash with Canberra.
The Sea Eagles confirmed this week they would challenge Monday’s penalty for breaches, which included $330,000 being struck off both their 2018 and 2019 caps.
However if they fail to overturn the decision, it could bring the future of at least some players in the club under question.
While Manly can get by without releasing any players in 2018 – although it appears prop Darcy Lussick could go as he remains in reserve grade – there are another 11 players off contract for next year.
Of those, up to seven could face Canberra, meaning their futures are even more uncertain in the opening month of the season than normal.
“We’ve spoken as a group about it and we’ll do our best to keep them informed,” Barrett said.
“The players that I’ve got in the room now are here to do a job, they’re professionals and we’ll keep them in the loop as much as we can.
“I would love to keep all of them and what happens over the next couple of weeks will determine what we’ve got this year and what we’ve got next year.’
On Barrett’s side is the fact Manly have been no stranger to controversy in the past and during his two-and-a-bit year stint.
He’s already had to deal with match-fixing allegations – which Manly were ultimately cleared of – and the cap saga that has dragged on since last year.
Players have already spoken about allowing the latest developments to galvanise the team, after they reached last year’s finals despite similar dramas.
“It’s certainly not of their concern and nothing of their doing,” Barrett said.
“It’s certainly not unusual for this group of players to be going through a week like this given some of the stuff that has happened.
“It’s no difference to us, we’ve got two points to get tomorrow against Canberra and we really need them.”
Saturday’s clash marks an important one in Manly’s start to the season. Despite flogging Parramatta 54-0 in round two, they risk going 1-3 with a loss to the winless Canberra.
Barrett confirmed on Friday that Lachlan Croker would start at five-eighth, after reports emerged earlier in the week he’d been axed as part of a spine reshuffle featuring Apisai Koroisau and Jackson Hastings.
“Crokes didn’t train on Tuesday because of the HIA,” he said.
“He will definitely play and there’s been no contemplation or thought about anything else.”
STATS THAT MATTER:
* Manly beat Canberra twice in golden point last year.
* Canberra -5 differential is the best ever of any team to lose their first three games.
* Canberra have won two of 13 matches decided by six points or less since the start of 2017.
*Stats courtesy Fox Sports Stats