Manly On Track - Hasler

Manly coach Des Hasler believes his team may have a secret weapon in its arsenal next National Rugby League season.

On his first official day on the job, Hasler sugested his team's low profile in the off-season may give it the best platform from which to launch a 2004 assault.

"I think we'll be underrated, which is a good sign," Hasler said.

"(But) I expect us to be very competitive."

"We're easing into it, we had a pool session and a weight session today," said Hasler who played 12 Tests for Australia.

"We'll pick it up a bit in the next few weeks."

The team will head off for a bonding camp at a yet to be determined location in two weeks.

Manly has been one of the more active teams in the off-season, signing young players such as 23-year-old Michael Monaghan from Canberra, Penrith's Chris Hicks, 26, and 24-year-old Daniel Heckenberg from Parramatta.

"There's a lot of new players signed to the club so it's a bit of a get-to-know-you session this week," Hasler said.

"It's a team bonding exercise where the players will be put in situations where they have to use their teammates to get over obstacles and things like that."

Manly's changes aren't restricted to the field.

Manly had a tumultuous year this season, finishing 14th on the NRL table.

The drama ultimately led to the return of club legend Ken Arthurson to the executive and the resignations of ex-CEO Ian Thomson, chairman Paul Vautin and coach Peter Sharp.

The club now has an entirely new coaching staff behind Hasler, including former Test prop Steve Roach and former Manly premiership players Geoff Toovey and Noel Cleal.

The signing of Andrew Walker, who last year walked out on the ACT Brumbies and rugby union, has given fans hope for next season.

Hasler said the former Rooster and Dragon was fitting in well.

"He's played a lot of league and as a senior player, he's going well," he said.

The Sea Eagles have also signed halfback Mark Lennon, formerly of Castleford in the ESL, who played for Wales against the Kangaroos on Monday.

Hasler described Lennon as a "handy player".

Renowned as a disciplinarian during his career as both a player and trainer, Hasler said he would ensure his players had the highest level of fitness.

"I try and instil in them what the game is about," he said.

"Rugby league is a tough, hard, uncompromising game."