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Hands off our players, Manly Sea Eagles tell rivals

Brothers in arms: Brett Stewart (right) may follow his brother Glenn, who has signed with South Sydney, out of Manly.

Brothers in arms: Brett Stewart (right) may follow his brother Glenn, who has signed with South Sydney, out of Manly. Photo: Getty Images

Manly boss David Perry has gone to the NRL over concerns rival clubs are illegally approaching his star players with inducements to break their current contracts.

Sea Eagles gamebreakers Anthony Watmough, Brett Stewart and Steve Matai are believed to have asked the club for releases from the final year of their contracts, while rivals are already queuing up for the services of Queensland playmaker Daly Cherry-Evans. All of them are contracted to Manly until the end of next year.

Under NRL rules, rival clubs are allowed to approach player managers at any time, but only to discuss signings for periods after a player's current contract lapses.

Sought-after: Manly's Steve Matai.

Sought-after: Manly's Steve Matai. Photo: Anthony Johnson

However, Sea Eagles powerbrokers suspect their players are being pressured into asking for releases with a view to taking up big-money offers elsewhere.

"That is a concern, I spoke to the NRL today about it," Perry said.

"They will be keeping a close eye on certain processes to ensure everyone is working within the NRL guidelines.

Top priority: Eels target Daly Cherry-Evans.

Top priority: Eels target Daly Cherry-Evans. Photo: Getty Images

"When you've got a player roster like ours, players will always be in demand. I don't blame other clubs for being interested in our players but I've got concerns around [how that is done]. That's something the NRL will have to look at, it's not my position to do it."

The NRL said it was not investigating any issues at present, as no evidence of breaches have been presented. But it would be almost impossible for a 'holding' club to prove that a rival was discussing a deal for, say, next year if they claimed they were negotiating for the following season.

"It's not my role to start drilling down into who is saying what," Perry said.

"I'm disappointed it has created half of these issues. If people work within those parameters, we probably won't be in this situation in regards to certain players.

"It's not just an NRL rule, it's the law – you can't induce people to break contracts."

As revealed by Fairfax Media last week, Parramatta have made Cherry-Evans their top recruitment priority. The Eels are also hopeful of adding Watmough to their forward pack, although they almost certainly won't be able to nab them both given their much-publicised falling out.

Parramatta coach Brad Arthur coached them during his stint as an assistant at Manly last year and they are thought to be close. There is no suggestion the blue and golds, who are only considering the duo when they become available on the open market, have acted improperly.

It's believed there is residual unrest at Manly over the decision not to offer Glenn Stewart a contract extension for next year. Stewart subsequently signed with South Sydney, while brother Brett's decision to sell a property he owned on the Northern Beaches further fuelled speculation he would follow suit.

Perry confirmed that Matai had previously asked for a release but said "there have been no formal requests" from Watmough or Brett Stewart.

Earlier this month, Matai was quoted as saying: "Glenn and I are quite close and the Warriors had put an offer through.

"I sat back, thought about it and realised it might be a good move for me and my family. It's a long-term contract and could be my last. I'm turning 30 this year. I've already asked the club for a release for next year. We'll see how everything unfolds and I might find myself over there."

Despite the dramas, the Sea Eagles remain on top of the competition ladder after defeating St George Illawarra on Monday night.

27 comments so far

  • Seams the shoe is on the other foot for a change. Manly were the ones that poached all the good players in the early days now they are complaining because it might be happening to them

    Date and time
    July 23, 2014, 5:13AM
    • how predictable. we are talking about contracted players here, in the case of stewart for another 2 years.

      Date and time
      July 23, 2014, 11:31AM
  • Funny how Manly didn't have a problem when Jamie Lyons wanted to end his contract early and link with them? How ironic a club that built its reputation on pillaging others should cry like banshees when it happens to them????

    The Outback
    Date and time
    July 23, 2014, 6:22AM
    • Before you start bashing Manly, get your facts in order. Jamie Lyon had ended his playing career with Parramatta back in 2004 and signed to play with St Helens for the 2005-06 season. He joined Manly in 2007 after being approached by Noel Cleal to join the club. Anyway who are the poachers now? It's Roosters, Bulldogs and Parramatta. Manly's era of poaching is now history thanks very much.

      Date and time
      July 23, 2014, 10:20AM
    • After Jamie Lyon's returned to Australia from St Helens Parramatta carried out a dirty campain against Jamie by trying to get all clubs to not sign him up but Manly signed him up and the rest is history He is a Sea Eagle all the way any players who go to Parramatta will find it is a grave yard for top players. Hayne went down hill but is starting to get better now but he loves his wooden spoon collection.

      Sea Eagle
      Date and time
      July 23, 2014, 11:44AM
  • Oh Boo hoo hoo poor Mamwe, what a laugh! The biggest poaches in the history of the game don't like their players being taken from them. Suck it up Sea Eagles you owe the game a lot.

    Date and time
    July 23, 2014, 6:58AM
    • Manly knows they owe the game a lot. It's why they keep turning up to finals series each year to repay the game with a few more Manly outings each year. Whilst at the same time half the rest all sit around sipping suds, failing to pay back their fans yet again.

      Date and time
      July 23, 2014, 2:19PM
  • Poor Manly - why are they so special to be treated different to any other club.

    Canberra, Melbourne, Tigers have all been targeted.

    About time Toovey grew up and stopped whinging. If they have used their salary cap up to keep some players then the remaining ones will be targets if they play well enough.

    Date and time
    July 23, 2014, 8:35AM
    • How would Parramatta pay for these players? Reportedly, they have little room in their salary cap and they are still paying players moved on in the Stuart clean out. Neither DCE or Watmough would be available for bargain basement $.

      Date and time
      July 23, 2014, 9:08AM
      • Because all of these players (and the CEO himself) were born and bred on the North Shore and Manly have never been a club which "bought" premierships ever....
        What ?????... only one out of that group is a genuine local ?

        You got the Juan
        Date and time
        July 23, 2014, 9:28AM

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