Manly, Bulldogs CEOs talking tough - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Manly, Bulldogs CEOs talking tough

By Todd Balym 22/04/2008 05:42:23 PM Comments (0)

Manly chief executive Grant Mayer has ignited a war of words with the Bulldogs, insisting their intimidating aura is now just "a myth".

A former staffer at Belmore, Mayer fuelled the bitter rivalry between the two clubs when he suggested the Bulldogs once almighty reputation as the powerhouse forward pack of the NRL was no longer warranted.

The Bulldogs lost Willie Mason and Mark O'Meley during the offseason and their once all-international pack of big men, while still containing the lethal Sonny Bill Williams and Andrew Ryan, is now led by relative unknowns Jarrad Hickey, Chris Armit and Lee Te Maari.

Asked ahead of Saturday's clash at Brookvale Oval if their opponents are still as intimidating as they were in years gone by, Mayer replied: "I don't think so, I think that is a bit of a myth now."

"I think there's clubs like ours that are certainly as strong defensively as the Bulldogs.

"At the end of the day every club is so well drilled defensively that every game is bruising."

Rival CEO Todd Greenberg, however, fired back at Mayer's thoughts and challenged his friend and former colleague to don a maroon and white jersey to test his own courage against the Bulldogs pack.

"If he thinks we are not the team we were I would give him the opportunity to put a jersey on and run at our pack because I certainly wouldn't want to do it," said Greenberg.

The Bulldogs were the only team to defeat Manly at their home ground last season, the 27-8 victory coming off a dominant forward performance.

In fact the Bulldogs have won four of their past five visits to Brookvale, Greenberg challenging the silvertails' claims their ground is a fortress.

"The Fortress Brookvale they speak about doesn't ring true for the Bulldogs, we're ready to turn up and play," he said.

"We had a fairly good win there and it was certainly a physical game last year and that is what we have our eyes on this year as well."

While the two club bosses were happy to trade barbs, Manly coach Des Hasler was desperate to avoid baiting the opposition ahead of the crucial round seven clash.

"They're going through a rebuilding phase," he said diplomatically.

"They're very impressive, they're enthusiastic, young and they back themselves. That's probably their standout feature.

"They're a good side on paper and we will give them plenty of respect, don't worry about that."

Hasler was also quick to avoid labelling Williams the Bulldogs only attacking force, citing the form of Luke Patten, Matt Utai, Corey Hughes and Andrew Ryan as other potential gamebreakers.

"Obviously he will be their go-to man at some stage of the game (but) I don't think they're relying on him ... " said Hasler.

"Obviously he is the one we have to watch as far as defence is concerned, but there are other areas of their game which are very strong as well."

Injured Manly forward Anthony Watmough denied the Bulldogs had lost firepower from their pack.

"I don't think any team is soft this year. Anyone on their day is capable of doing anything in this comp and the Bulldogs are no exception," said Watmough.

"A few of the boys have left (the Bulldogs) and gone to different clubs but they've still got Sonny Bill and other big boppers up front."

Mayer, meanwhile, says his side won't chase another marquee recruit for 2009 after missing out on Todd Carney and Anthony Tupou.

Both rejected multi-million dollar long-term deals to join Manly and Mayer says his club will now focus on retaining their own talent.

The Sea Eagles may consider restructuring current deals for players next year so they have more money available to hunt big-names for the 2010 season.

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