High-flying Manly’s mid-season NRL form won’t be derailed by the club’s alleged salary cap scandal, insists coach Trent Barrett.
Barrett fronted the media on Friday morning and faced a deluge of questions surrounding the latest saga, with the NRL confirming this week they would investigate the club after reports of an alleged breach.
However, Barrett said he has done his best to shield the players from the reports, ahead of Saturday night’s clash with Penrith at Pepper Stadium.
“The players are really good with it,” Barrett said.
“They know what their job is. They can’t control it, I can’t control it.
“The best thing I can do is shield them from it and focus them on what we’ve got to do tomorrow night.”
The Sea Eagles have become well accustomed to off-field scandals dominating headlines.
And in turn, they have thrived off their famous siege mentality.
Most recently, they forced to endure allegations of match-fixing last season, which were only reportedly cleared this week.
And Barrett said the players had openly joked about the latest salary cap allegations across the league, where Manly have been the only club named, before continuing with preparations for Saturday’s match.
“The players had a bit of a chuckle. They wanted to know who was getting (the money),” Barrett said.
“We’ve been through similar things last year and the group handled it well and nothing came of that either.
“It seems funny that everyone turns up here all the time.”
Saturday’s match poses a significant point in the Sea Eagles’ season.
A win will likely take them into the top two for the first time since 2014, while a loss could potentially drop them out of the top-four heading into the final third of the season.
Halfback Daly Cherry-Evans will be desperate to continue his career-best form, after being overlooked by Queensland’s State of Origin selectors.
Manly will be without Jake Trbojevic through Origin duty, while injuries to Curtis Sironen and Lewis Brown have left a hole on their right edge.
Meanwhile, Penrith coach Anthony Griffin said his side are on high alert for a fired up Sea Eagles, having endured a similar drama as coach of Brisbane in 2014.
“Normally when something like that happens it steels you,” Griffin said.
“I was at a similar situation at Brisbane once when there were rumours and innuendo against us.
“I would rather it didn’t happen to be honest.”