Daly Cherry-Evans has never experienced it in his career, and Lloyd Perrett says he’ll never forget the day Manly faithful turned on their own and booed the Sea Eagles off their own home ground.
A near-capacity crowd at Lottoland let fly at halftime as Cherry-Evans led his side off the paddock trailing 26-0 to Wests Tigers, with plenty making an early exit well before the second stanza concluded on Sunday.
It was a stunning fall from grace for Manly considering they had rebuilt their once-fearsome reputation on the Northern Beaches with seven straight home wins.
But with Trent Barrett conceding the club’s salary cap scandal and key injuries leave him with little room to make wholesale changes after a fourth loss in six weeks, those boos will be ringing loud in the players’ ears for some time yet.
“I don’t think I’ll ever forget that, and we probably deserved that,” Perrett told NRL.com.
“We didn’t really give them anything to cheer about and as players, as professionals, we take that seriously and personally. If they want to boo us, they can boo us and that’s fair enough.
“We’ll make sure we give them something to cheer about from now on.”
Cherry-Evans has copped more flak than he can remember from opposition fans over the years, but Sunday’s pasting from the maroon and white fan base was a first for the Manly skipper.
The going didn’t get any easier for the Sea Eagles, who trudged out of the sheds after the heavy loss and straight up to their leagues club for a signing session with the same disgruntled supporters.
“It hurts [to get booed off],” Cherry-Evans said.
“When you play like that, people wear their heart on their sleeves around this joint which is fair enough.”
Barrett threw a couple of choice descriptors at his team too, describing their first half as “diabolical”, and “embarrassing”.
Asked if his team came up with any injury concerns, he responded with “just bruised egos.”
As it stands Manly only has 27 players in its full-time first-grade squad after releasing Darcy Lussick to Toronto Wolfpack this week, with each club’s final 30-man contingent due by June 30.
Season-ending injuries to Curtis Sironen and Kelepi Tanganoa have the Sea Eagles forward depth seriously stretched, and Barrett admits he is limited in the change-ups he can make with limited personnel.
Among those is utility Jackson Hastings, who was ruled out of the Tigers loss with an Achilles injury.
On Sunday Fairfax Media reported that Hastings and Cherry-Evans had been involved in an altercation at training, which the captain described as “a lovers’ tiff” before Barrett cut off the line of questioning.
NRL.com has had the incident described by Manly sources as the type of scuffle that happens any given week on the training paddock, with no punches thrown by either player.
Without a hint of irony, Barrett lamented the lack of fight in his side as the Tigers enjoyed close to 80 percent of possession for most of the first half.
“We have to be more resilient when things aren’t going good,” Barrett said.
“It was the same last week, crucial errors at crucial times. We’re going to be on the end of possession flows like that again. We’ve got to get through it and at the moment we’re not.
“It’s not everyone, it’s not everyone it the team.
“The captain is resilient, there’s a number of individuals. But we’ve got a number of young blokes at the moment, when things get hard. It’s pretty reflective of our score lines.
“When things are going good they’re putting 30s, 40s and 50s on.
“When things aren’t going good, that’s where we need to be better… you have to find your way through those periods.
“That’s something that we’re not doing and something that we have to find because it’ll happen again. Hopefully not to that extent, but it’ll happen again.”