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Barrett blinks in awkward Manly mess

Trent Barrett is in an awkward situation.
Trent Barrett is in an awkward situation.

REPLACED Manly coach Trent Barrett opted against attending the NRL club's pre-season training on Friday as his four-month battle with the Sea Eagles continued.

Barrett and Manly remain in intense exit negotiations after his decision to hand in the required 12 months' notice in July citing a lack of resources at the club.

Manly has since announced Des Hasler as their new coach, with non-representative players returning to training this week and meeting their new mentor.

But no exit deal has yet been struck with Barrett, meaning the Sea Eagles still technically have two head coaches on their books until next July or a resolution is reached.

It's believed Manly had hoped a settlement would be reached earlier this week, but that was again met with an impasse.

The Daily Telegraph reported Barrett was planning to front up to work at Manly training on Friday, but it's understood he did not end up attending the club's Narrabeen base.

Reports emerged on Thursday night suggesting Manly officials had instructed Barrett not to turn up to training today as he was reportedly intending to.

Hasler's second coming at Manly began earlier this week with the veteran mentor getting his old band back together for his first day of coaching the NRL club in seven years.

Hasler welcomed players back to pre-season training at Narrabeen on Monday as the Sea Eagles' non-representative players checked in for medicals and a gym session.

In Barrett's absence, the halfback at the crux of Hasler's initial rebuild, Michael Monaghan, greeted players as the club's new pathways and specialist coach, and two-time premiership-winning hooker Matt Ballin was unveiled as welfare manager and under-20s coach.

Don Singe - Hasler's head trainer since his reserve-grade coaching days in 1999 - is back as strength and conditioning coach, and recruitment guru Noel Cleal has also been linked with a return.

When Hasler was first a coach at Manly between 2004 and 2011 he turned the club from a rabble to two-time premiers. A similar challenge awaits him this summer.

"He just brings that experience, that culture," club legend Steve Menzies, who played both with and under Hasler, told AAP.

"I think the squad speaks for itself. Last year at our best we were as good as the top teams … just maintaining that all season and during 80 minutes (was the problem).

"We go through great periods and then we lose our way a little bit. Then a team will score three tries like Penrith beat us towards the end.

"That consistency between your best and not best is what Dessie will bring."

Can Des make Manly great again?
Can Des make Manly great again?

The Sea Eagles were low key in their return on Monday, with a number of reporters awaiting Hasler's first day back leading the club's training.

Manly is one of nine clubs in training, with Gold Coast, Newcastle and North Queensland all back on Monday, along with St George Illawarra's younger brigade.

Canberra, Canterbury, Parramatta and the Warriors all returned last week.

But few will arrive back with as much interest as Hasler, who took Manly to seven straight finals series and three deciders before his unceremonious exit from the club after the 2011 premiership.

"When Des got the job, I called him to say I would love to help out in any capacity," Ballin, who will leave his family behind in Brisbane, told the club's website.

"To be able to coach at Manly under Des, who I played under for such a long time, is pretty special.

"I was really honoured that Des believed in me."

Topics:  des hasler don singe manly sea eagles matt ballin michael monaghan noel cleal nrl trent barrett