The pressure of off-field dramas, injuries and lack of form are beginning to show at NRL club Manly.
The Sea Eagles were unhappy at training on Thursday about continued focus on match-fixing allegations relating to two matches in 2015.
Fronting reporters, representative utility Lewis Brown threatened to walk away if questions about the NSW Organised Crime Squad’s probe into the claims didn’t stop.
“It’s all just allegations. We are not here to comment on that. We are here to comment about Sunday’s game. If you want to keep talking about that I will happily walk away,” he said.
“But if you want to talk about Sunday’s game, I will stay.”
Brown had previously stated he didn’t believe the allegations.
“There is a lot of stuff in the paper I am surprised to read. Half of it isn’t the truth,” Brown said.
“We will just leave it up to the club and they will sort it out. Our job is to play rugby league.
“The police are looking after it. The club has asked people to come forward but I have a strong feeling no one in our side has anything to do with it.”
Prop Josh Starling, who played in both games under investigation, said it wasn’t part of the fabric of the club to throw games.
“We always play to win and that is how we will always play,” Starling said.
“We are all good mates here and we are just looking after each other.”
Lewis did reveal coach Trent Barrett saw fit to address his playing group about the reports in a bid to limit their damage.
“He hasn’t had to say much. We are a bunch of adults. We are here to play rugby league – that is our focus. We are here to do our talking on the field,” Brown said.
The match-fixing allegations surfaced last week.
On Tuesday, reports also emerged of a legal battle between Manly and major sponsor CoCo Joy, which has the potential to cost the club about $3 million.
Manly players were still sporting CoCo Joy’s logo on their training gear despite the fight looming in the NSW Supreme Court.
Brown did hang around to talk about Sunday’s match at Brookvale Oval against his former club Penrith.
It’s a crucial match for Manly, given they have managed just four wins from 12 games at the halfway point of the NRL season.
They face Penrith without stars Jamie Lyon, Daly Cherry-Evans, Brenton Lawrence and Steve Matai.
Matai was ruled out for the rest of the season on Thursday due to his neck injury.
“At the moment it is not going too great but what a great opportunity for us to turn it around at Brookvale this Sunday,” Brown said.