GOSFORD, AUSTRALIA - JUNE 28: Sea Eagles coach Des Hasler walks to a press conference following the round seven NRL match between the Manly Sea Eagles and the Cronulla Sharks at Central Coast Stadium on June 28, 2020 in Gosford, Australia. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

The early ending of an NRL contract is seldom without some kind of drama. Especially when it involves the 'Mad Professor', Des Hasler.

Upon leaving the Manly Sea-Eagles in 2011 after a premiership at the helm, it was reported that Hasler's relationship with club-owner Scott Penn had become untenable. Penn had claimed evidence of Hasler poaching coaching staff from the Sea Eagles in preparation for his move to the Canterbury Bulldogs.

Hasler was terminated for 'a breach of contract'.

He took the Bulldogs to two grand finals in 2012 and 2014, but his impact on the club would be felt further down the line as the club found itself immersed in a highly pressurised salary cap dilemma, unable to be active in the player market for years to come after his dismissal in 2017.

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At the time of his termination, Hasler took aim at the Bulldogs for ending his contract a year early, sending out subpoenas to rival clubs in a bid to prepare himself for a court battle where he would claim that the club hampered his ability to find a gig elsewhere when they prematurely announced his extension.

The Bulldogs and Hasler eventually settled out of court for a seven-figure amount.

In 2019, Penn and Hasler revived their professional relationship and Des found himself as Head Coach of Manly once more. In July of 2022, that relationship was tested as the club was splintered amid the 'pride jersey' saga that would ultimately end their season.

Many were critical of the way the club handled the issue, specifically in the way Hasler was the one who ended up having to front the media to explain - and to apologise.

Emerging recently are intriguing claims that Manly's acting CEO Gary Wolman had offered to join Hasler and Daly Cherry-Evans at the press conference, but that Hasler had told him not to come and then proceeded to load the blame directly on club bosses.

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Despite assurances from Penn and the board after the round that Des Hasler would be the Manly coach moving forward 'without question', six weeks later they unanimously voted for his removal.

Although Hasler has a six-month payout clause in his contract if released early, he has elected not to accept it, keeping the door open for legal action.

According to News Corp, the Sea Eagles have affirmed that they will take up the fight in court, claiming that they will be able to subpoena text messages, emails and phone records to show that Hasler not only had full knowledge about the pride jersey ahead of the match against the Roosters, but that he had rejected the board's advice to scrap it pending further discussions.

Manly will also likely claim that Hasler bullied the board on the issue, said that he'd 'happily replace' any players who chose to boycott the match and created a rift among the playing group.

The legal scene is set to play out in the NSW Supreme Court, starting on October 20, 2023.

Hasler is set to join the Gold Coast Titans as head coach in 2024. No doubt they will be watching on with great interest.

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