Geoff Toovey is digging his heels in at Brookvale, as the embattled Manly coach comes under continuing pressure to keep his job at the NRL club.
After a below-par 1-4 start to the season, the Sea Eagles sit on the bottom of the ladder for the first time since 2004.
Manly were expected to dip in 2015, after the off-season departures of Glenn Stewart and Anthony Watmough, before the 2016 exits of Daly Cherry-Evans and Kieran Foran added further instability.
Their cause hasn’t been helped by a significant injury toll, but their round-five loss to Canberra in Albury was one of the proud club’s most feeble efforts in recent memory.
Toovey has come under fire from Manly chairman Scott Penn, who says he needs results to keep his job.
The club legend has declared he will see out his contract until the end of next year.
“I’m not feeling any pressure, but I’m a competitor I like to win and the players are of the same vein,” Toovey said.
“We have been below our best for the last few weeks, but we are not far off.
“There is no certainty in rugby league, but I am confident we will produce the goods and that I will be here for the length of my contract.”
Toovey said uncertainty over his future wouldn’t affect recruitment.
“We have always bounced back. We are a strong club and we will be a strong club for the future,” he said.
This week, Manly have missed out on the signatures of Tom Burgess, who stayed with South Sydney, and Gold Coast halfback Aidan Sezer, who committed to a three-year deal with Canberra.
Veteran prop Willie Mason conceded players might be scared away from Brookvale by the current turmoil.
“As a current (Manly) player you are not stressing that much, but players that are coming from other clubs, if you are in the market and you are looking in the paper and you are in negotiations, it is not ideal,” he said.
“But it is not all built on this moment in time. This is a great club and it is here to stay.”
However, Mason backed Toovey as the man to get Manly out of their present mess.
“I like him. I like the current set-up,” the former Kangaroo forward said.
Manly meet fellow out-of-form Penrith, also on a three-game losing streak on Saturday night.
“That performance against Canberra was embarrassing, regardless of injuries the club expect a lot more than that,” Mason said.
“You will see a different team come Saturday.”
Toovey said Steve Matai was likely to play after overcoming a shoulder injury.
MANY VERSUS PENRITH
* The Panthers have won just two of their past six meetings with the Sea Eagles overall and just three of their past seven meetings against them in Penrith.
* Panthers coach Ivan Cleary has a poor career record against the club he made his playing debut with in 1992, winning just four of 15 matches against them, his worst record as a coach against any opponent.
* In Manly and Penrith’s matches this season, the team leading at halftime has won every match.
* In its three matches since round three (without Jamie Soward), Penrith has scored the second least points (ahead of only Manly), run for the second least metres, conceded the most points, missed easily the most tackles (almost 40 a game) and conceded the second most linebreaks.