Manly boss lays out plan for NRL success

Re-signing Tom (left) Jake Trbojevic has boosted the start of CEO Stephen Humphreys tenure at Manly.
Re-signing Tom (left) Jake Trbojevic has boosted the start of CEO Stephen Humphreys tenure at Manly.

He's the tenth fulltime chief executive in the post-Northern Eagles era, but new Manly boss Stephen Humphreys is slamming the revolving door shut.

After five years as head of global sales for British Airways in London, the former Wests Tigers CEO and Balmain player did his due diligence before returning to the NRL with the Sea Eagles.

He knew exactly what he was walking into - a club that has been plagued by infighting, challenging facilities, a stadium in desperate need of an upgrade and a tough coach to bargain with.

The constant upheaval at Manly has claimed nine bosses since 2002, but Humphreys is confident those days are over.

"It's a tough gig and it does burn through quite a few people," he admitted.

"I did quite a bit of due diligence on the club before I came in, because having worked in the game before I'm conscious of those potential pitfalls.

"Some of the issues that have been prevalent at Manly in the past, I don't see now.

"I do see a very strong unified board and ownership group.

"Des (Hasler) being back in the picture just fits and works and we have a great playing roster. Nothing's perfect, but it feels like it's got the ingredients and I do really feel an upswing."

Humpheys' tenure has started with a bang, re-signing homegrown superstars Jake and Tom Trbojevic to six-year deals.

But there's a lot left to achieve.

Hasler, the mad scientist of rugby league, is notoriously difficult to say no to. But Humphreys has already done it.

Hasler is always striving for a competitive edge - be it a new consultant, new equipment or the latest training methods - it's what makes him a top-level coach.

Striking the delicate balance between keeping the coach happy and the budget on track will be Humphreys' biggest challenge.

He confimed Hasler has autonomy over the football department, but within reason.

"Coaches I've worked with in the past, very successful coaches like Tim Sheens ... Des is the same," he said.

"They're always trying to push the envelope and find the incremental gain.

"We just have to prioritise within our means and that means saying no from time to time. But Des is a realist. He's been around the game for a long time so it's about prioritising and planning.

"The relationship between CEO and head coach is really important. We don't need to be best mates but we do need to be on the same page and be supporting each other."

However, his biggest legacy as CEO, should he deliver, is nailing down government funding to upgrade the dilapidated Brookvale Oval.

It was music to his ears when new Australian Rugby League Commission chairman Peter V'landys declared upgrading the ground as one of his biggest priorities and Humphreys plans to hold him to the promise.

This week he is meeting with the NRL to discuss how to make the ambitions a reality.

"We've already got some money, $32 million to do some work at Brookvale including a new stand and a centre of excellence, so we're on the way and with Peter and Todd (Greenberg's) help we hope we can do a lot more," he said.

"We need to take the ambition and the desire into some kind of plans.

"The state government already has a very ambitious infrastructure vision for Sydney, so there's a lot of money being spent generally in stadia as part of that so we need to tap into that now and see what is possible and on what kind of timeline might be realistic.

"We start from a good place, there's a strong desire.

"Peter V'landys strikes me as an action guy and to have his support is tremendous."

To effectively close the revolving door at Manly, Humphreys is going to need all the support he can get.

Australian Associated Press