Manly CEO Joe Kelly has delivered a less-than-ringing endorsement of coach Geoff Toovey amid speculation he could be ousted from his post within weeks.
Toovey’s head is reportedly on the chopping block after Manly’s lacklustre first half of the season has left them with only three wins against eight losses and rooted at the bottom of the NRL table after 12 rounds.
According to Fairfax Media, Penrith assistant coach Trent Barrett is set to take over as Sea Eagles coach next year with the possibility of an announcement as early as this week.
It’s speculated that North Queensland assistant John Cartwright could take over in a caretaker role this season before becoming an assistant under Barrett.
Kelly did nothing to quell the conjecture on Friday morning when he declared he “won’t speculate” on the immediate future of his embattled head coach.
He would not say whether Toovey would see out the season, but conceded that “results determine outcomes for any coach, including Geoff”.
“We’re just not speculating on long-term situations,” Kelly told Sky Sports radio.
“We’re right in the now, we need to get results and we’re hoping to turn that around say tomorrow night (against Brisbane).”
Kelly denied he’d been involved in negotiations with Barrett, who has reportedly been given the blessing of Panthers officials to leave the club immediately.
“Lots of speculation out there but I haven’t had a single conversation with any prospective head coach,” he said.
“This has been a daily conversation … and I haven’t changed my opinion one little bit on what we’re doing and how we’re going about things.”
Toovey came under criticism following the departures of veteran backrowers Anthony Watmough and Glenn Stewart this season, while star five-eighth Kieran Foran is on the move to Parramatta next year.
The coach himself admitted on Wednesday the coup to keep Daly Cherry-Evans long-term would not ease the mounting pressure on his shoulders.
Cherry-Evans committed to staying a Sea Eagle for life after reneging on his Gold Coast deal and agreeing to a “lifetime contract” reportedly worth more than $1 million a season and $10 million all up.
Kelly said now the club have their star halfback locked down they they’ll be looking to pursue other targets as Manly start the rebuilding process.
The side have already signed Titans captain Nate Myles, while Parramatta forward and Cherry-Evans’ friend Darcy Lussick has reportedly signed a three-year deal with his former club.