With the future of Manly halfback Daly Cherry-Evans now finally decided, the focus now turns on whether coach Geoff Toovey will be the one to coach him.
As the Sea Eagles departed for Brisbane on Thursday afternoon, a relieved Toovey declared Cherry-Evans a certain starter for tomorrow night’s clash with the Broncos.
However the spotlight will now shift on the club legend, who has one year remaining on his current deal with Manly.
Speculation continues to surround Penrith assistant Trent Barrett taking over in 2016, however Toovey said the club has yet to begin a conversation about his coaching future and nor will he seek any assurances about it.
“I don’t know where the [rumours] are coming from. We’ve got one of the most successful coaching departments in the NRL,” Toovey said.
“The media will speculate, (but) I’ve got a contract and I’m just going on with business. We’ve got a game to win on Friday night.”
Sea Eagles CEO Joe Kelly categorically denied the club has begun negotiations with “any prospective head coach”, but also refused to guarantee that Toovey will see out the final year of his contract in 2016.
“We’re not where we want to be at the moment, but we’ve got to give everyone an opportunity,” Kelly said on Sky Radio’s Big Sports Breakfast.
“I want to see this 2015 season out and we’ll take things from there. We don’t want to speculate any further than that at this point in time.
“We’re just not speculating on our long-term situation. We’re right in the now.
“We need to get results and we’re hoping to turn that around starting from tomorrow night.” Pressed on whether he had spoken to Barrett, Kelly replied: “I’m not even talking to anyone else at all.
“(There’s) lots of speculation out there, but I haven’t had a single conversation with a prospective head coach.”
Toovey, 45, has led the Sea Eagles to the finals every season since taking over from Des Hasler in 2012.
This year they currently sit last on the NRL ladder with just three victories in 11 matches, but Toovey maintained he still led one of the best coaching teams in the league.
“They do a fantastic job, they’re passionate about the club,” Toovey said of his coaching group.
“We’ve been flat this year, but there’s been a lot of different reasons behind that.
“A horrific injury toll, we’ve used 27 or 28 players this year already.”
While unsure on whether his coaching future was included in Cherry-Evans’ negotiations with the club, Toovey hoped his halfback remained loyal to the staff that helped him to where he has developed today.
“Obviously they’ve been a fairly big instrument in him getting to where he is,” he said.
“And I’m sure he appreciates that. We’d like to make sure that situation is maintained.”