Still, Titans CEO Steve Mitchell stepped lightly on Thursday when asked how much autonomy Hasler has been given – a conversation starter wherever the two-time premiership winner has coached.
“I’m really looking forward to Des’ work tempo,” Mitchell said, when asked about Hasler’s intensity and coaching approach.
“I think that’ll be extraordinary for our business, for the people inside it. He’s going to stretch us, which is exactly what we need. He’ll be fantastic for the playing group, developing individuals and the sum total of the playing group.
“Like all things in life, with people that stretch you, you achieve more than you thought you would. And I can’t wait for that challenge.
“Same footy program. We move forward,” Mitchell dead-batted, too, when asked if Hasler would bring his own people in November.
Seeing is believing on that, not just because it’s Hasler. Every coach has their own people.
Hasler is the first head coach to grace the Glitter Strip with title-winning experience, bringing “those decades of coaching, his winning ways and DNA”, as Mitchell put it.
Titans players will indeed be stretched every way by a work ethic that has seen Hasler’s alarm ring at 2am to begin his day. In return, his loyalty to them is legendary.
Hasler’s handling of Manly’s Pride Jersey saga was viewed by many as his finest hour, and many more as the beginning of his end given the egos involved.
Even in the days before his sacking, Hasler provided a character witness for Manase Fainu in court and rode a bike alongside Josh Schuster on road runs as he trained through his off-season break.
Hasler will stretch Titans management, too. During his time at Canterbury, he drove what was then an expensive investment in camera and GPS technology. It ended up being emulated across the entire competition.
With four finals appearances and two wooden spoons since 2007, the Gold Coast have needed change for some time.
“Untapped potential” is how a roster featuring Tino Fa’asuamaleaui, David Fifita, AJ Brimson and, potentially, Ben Hunt was pitched and viewed during Hasler’s negotiations.
Whether Hasler can, will or needs to change is the really interesting question.
When he returned to Brookvale in late 2018, Hasler went from chasing the latest and greatest in gadgets at Belmore to the absolute bare bones of coaching, because of the budget.
One off-season and a fit Tom Trbojevic led Manly from an attack that ranked 12th in the first year of six-again restarts, to the finals and the most entertaining play around.
So much can be said about Hasler and his ways. Like Wayne Bennett, he has always fascinated the media and fans alike, never more than when they’re playing the pantomime and giving nothing.
For the first time in a long time, we’re all watching the Titans as they take the ride.
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