Players ignoring instructions from their coach is not a good sign for Trent Barrett. Photo: Brendan Esposito
Players ignoring instructions from their coach is not a good sign for Trent Barrett. Photo: Brendan Esposito

‘That’s the biggest f*** you to a coach I’ve ever seen’

FORMER Sea Eagles prop Willie Mason has expressed doubts that Manly coach Trent Barrett can control the current playing group, describing the missed curfew at Gladstone as "the biggest f*** you to a coach I've ever seen."

Revelations that four other players would be fined for their part in the hijinks in Gladstone following the team's Round 5 loss to the Titans carried the story of the fallout between captain Daly Cherry-Evans and Jackson Hastings into a second week.

A 44-10 loss to the previously winless Eels plunged Manly further into the mire and, according to Mason, only a win against the Knights at Lottoland on Friday night can cure their current ills.

Willie Mason played the final 20 games of his 291-game NRL career with the Sea Eagles in 2015. Photo: Gregg Porteous
Willie Mason played the final 20 games of his 291-game NRL career with the Sea Eagles in 2015. Photo: Gregg Porteous

The last of Mason's 15 seasons in the NRL was spent at the Sea Eagles, where he played 20 games in 2015, with Cherry-Evans, Jorge Taufua and Jake Trbojevic the only players from Mason's final game still at the club.

Known as someone who didn't mind challenging authority during his 291-game, 24 Test and 13-game Origin career, Mason understands the mindset of players who are breaking the team rules and says it doesn't bode well for Barrett.

"In this circumstance, six people have gone out and Trent Barrett's given them a curfew. That's just the biggest f*** you to a coach I've ever seen," Mason told SkipiTV.

"I've seen it done at some clubs that I was at before when we were younger and no one could really tell us what to do.

"It's that pack mentality when you're out and you're having a couple of beers and you're getting beat and everyone's getting pissed off.

"You're pissed off at the coach, you're pissed off at the trainers, you're pissed off at the players, everything just seems to be all boiled up.

"That's when you start breaking curfews and pretty much tell everyone to beat it and you run your own race.

"That's the worst thing that can happen to Trent Barrett, is his team imploding and having no respect for him or the club.

"He's got a hell of a task at the moment controlling these players, getting the key people like

'DCE' (Cherry-Evans) and the Trbojevic brothers and getting them all under one umbrella."

In the latter stages of his career Mason played 60 games across three seasons for Wayne Bennett at the Knights where he was often called upon to actually enforce standards within the playing group.

"I got coached by arguably the greatest coach ever, Wayne Bennett, he never put a curfew on anybody," Mason revealed.

"He's coaching grown-ass men and he trusts you so you trust him.

"He'd never put a curfew on you but he'd say stuff like, get home by 12, 1 or 2, something like that.

"He would say to me, 'Willie, you're a senior player, get the boys home by 2.'"

Staring down the barrel of a fourth-straight loss and currently sitting in 13th position on the ladder, the only mode of recovery for Manly, according to Mason, is to start winning again.

"I've been in some teams where everything just seems to be going wrong, wrong, wrong and the only way to get past it all is to win," he said.

"They're going to have crisis meetings after crisis meetings this week and just get out there on the weekend and get a win, because that solves everything."

Nathan Ryan, Ben Ikin and Emma Lawrence explore the Knights' best Mitchell Pearce replacement, the dire Bulldogs attack and Craig Bellamy's plan in the Market Watch podcast.


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