Des Hasler disaster about to claim biggest victim of NRL career

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When the Titans signed Des Hasler, they crossed their fingers and prayed for the premiership whisperer with the Mel Gibson hair and the temper to boot.

But all that’s arrived is the Temu Des from 2017 with the constipated attacking structures that he’ll probably try to fix by signing Tony Williams.

Hasler’s signing promised a new dawn of success and grunted riddles at the Titans, with the league’s lazy sons predicted to finally ignite under his rigid regime and the boundless nebulae of his press conferences.

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But while he certainly has produced an immediate impact, it’s only been by making the banter club even more banteriffic than before.

Hasler’s old school qualities were supposed to make the brittle Titans tougher than a goat’s head, but at 0-3, it’s already a shambles before it’s even got off the tarmac.

In fact, the only significant change he’s introduced is an offense as fluent as carving a Christmas turkey with a door key.

While beginning brightly against the Dolphins last night by racing to an early 10-0 lead, the 2024 Titans have built a reputation over the opening rounds for a single-minded approach to preventing points, albeit their own.

This saw the club’s first two rounds produce nothing but one measly try and outright spoon favouritism, leaving their season teetering on the brink of cinematic disaster even before the winter had arrived.

And after being overrun 30-14 by the Redcliffe outfit, the Hasler tenure is now so bleak that many believe the Titans should save time by sacking him now and getting the court case out of the way early.

Of course, Hasler has exhumed diabolical starts in the past, rehabilitating 0-3 starts in 2009 and 2021 to guide his famous Sea Eagles sides to finals campaigns.

But after all, we’re talking about Hasler here.

This is an eccentric scientist who could start a spat in a monastery, a perfectionist who arranges his block plays as immaculately as his contract stipulations.

Relationships can turn quickly sour under his watch at the mildest of turbulence, with his fallouts so volatile he once abandoned his beloved Manly club one week after leading it to a premiership.

He even rounded back for more in 2019, returning to pilot the club to a top four finish before lawyering-up after another acrimonious divorce that is still playing out before the courts.

And if you think Hasler’s bent is only against Manly, think again.

In between stoushing with the Sea Eagles, he lead Canterbury to two unlikely grand finals before hauling them before mediators for good measure too.

While well within his rights to claim his rightful payouts, it doesn’t change the fact that any relationship with Hasler combines giddy highs with disembowelling lows, and who’s to say he’s not already blaming these opening three losses on Scott Penn.

But while the two-time premiership winning coach and his new club are on an inevitable path to silks at ten paces, a breakdown with the Titans could have ramifications more far-reaching than legal bills and another burnt bridge.

The Gold Coast is already tiptoeing a tightrope with David Fifita, the star backrower who has cornered the club with an insane get-out clause allowing him to hit the open market after round 10 simply if the mood strikes.

Some call it the freedom of economic opportunity, some call it a dog act- but whatever way you look at it, it’s a semi-trailer hurtling towards a station-wagon packed with fireworks.

With 2024 already a miserable one-dimensional bog, the Fifita option is effectively shaping as a one-man referendum on Hasler’s coaching.

And with the Titans facing a challenging run of opponents – that being, NRL teams – it’s odds-on to have an impact on their footy until round 10 the backline could only dream of.

Simply put, not only could more festering results under Hasler trigger Fifita’s eye to wander, Fifita himself could be the sole determinant for whether the modern game has passed Hasler by.

And with the Titans already struggling to score points and missing alpha-prop Tino Fa’asuamaleaui, it has all the attributes of a classic rugby league sh*t storm, a concept also known as another season at the Titans.

Nobody doubts Hasler’s record as a supercoach.

But combining a volatile element like him with a rickshaw club like the Titans was always a chance of pain.

And if it eventuates in the club losing a scud like Fifita, it would be like stripping a halitosis sufferer of his last mint.

Dane Eldridge is a warped cynic yearning for the glory days of rugby league, a time when the sponges were magic and the Mondays were mad. He’s never strapped on a boot in his life, and as such, should be taken with a grain of salt.

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