Des Hasler has given one of the frostiest interviews of the year in the minutes before the Sea Eagles’ blockbuster with the Roosters kicked off.
Welcome to our live coverage of the Roosters-Sea Eagles semi-final showdown in Mackay.
The stakes are immense with the winner to go through to the grand final qualifier against the Bunnies and the loser to celebrate Mad Monday.
Watch every 2021 NRL Telstra Finals Series match before Grand Final. Live & Ad-Break Free on Kayo. New to Kayo? Try 14-days free >
The game hadn’t even started before the drama began with Manly coach Des Hasler giving a colder pre-match interview than his regularly icy interviews in the lead up to kick-off.
Hasler is right up there with Wayne Bennett in treating sideline reporters with contempt and he went to another level in his pre-match talk with Channel 9’s Emma Lawrence, where he gave absolutely nothing.
He spoke just 29 words in response to five questions from the highly-regarded TV presenter.
When asked where else his team needs to improve after poor discipline in their loss last week against the Storm, Hasler said: I think that pretty well covers it”.
When asked if his players had any time away from their mentor this week, he said: “Possibly”.
The awkward response that followed was cringey to watch.
He did save his most endearing response to speak about his opposition.
“They’ve been very brave. They will be tough again tonight. You can guarantee that,” he said before walking off.
Hasler also made a surprise last-minute selection change with star forward Martin Taupau dropped to the bench.
When Manly’s team was confirmed one hour before kick-off, Sean Keppie was moved to start in the front row and Lachlan Croker confirmed to start at hooker.
Taupau is still chasing his first finals win when he plays in his 200th NRL game in Friday’s semi-final against the Sydney Roosters.
The closest the former New Zealand Test representative has come to winning a finals game was back in 2012 under his current coach Des Hasler at Canterbury.
The Sea Eagles were no match for the methodical Storm in the first week of the finals, and they must improve to defeat the Roosters.