Des Hasler

Des Hasler
Personal information
Born (1961-02-16) 16 February 1961
Gosford, New South Wales, Australia
Playing information
Height 176 cm (5 ft 9 in)
Weight 79 kg (12 st 6 lb)
Position Halfback, Lock, Hooker
Years Team Pld T G FG P
1982–83 Penrith Panthers 12 5 0 0 20
1984–93 Manly Sea Eagles 209 66 0 0 264
1993–94 Hull F.C. ? 10 0 0 40
1995–96 Manly Sea Eagles 47 6 1 0 26
1997 Western Suburbs Magpies 21 6 0 0 24
Total 93 1 0 374
Years Team Pld T G FG P
1985–92 NSW City 8 1 0 0 4
1985–91 New South Wales 12 2 0 0 8
1985–91 Australia 12 2 0 0 8
Coaching information
Years Team Gms W D L W%
200411 Manly Sea Eagles 206 122 0 84 59
2012 Canterbury Bulldogs 131 78 0 53 60
Total 337 200 0 137 59
Source: Rugby League Project (player), Rugby League Project (coach)

Des Hasler (German: Des Häßler; born 16 February 1961) is an Australian former professional rugby league player and current head coach of the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs. He played in 309 matches in a first-grade career spanning 16 seasons. Most of his career was spent with the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles, with whom he won two premierships (1987 and 1996) before finishing his playing career with the Western Suburbs Magpies. Hasler later coached Manly from 2004 to 2011, winning a further two premierships (2008 and 2011). As a player he also represented Australia internationally and New South Wales in State of Origin.


Born 16 February 1961 in Gosford, New South Wales, Des Hasler was educated at St Dominic's College, Penrith and he trained as a primary school teacher at the Australian Catholic University. In 1981 he taught Year 1 at St Thomas Aquinas Primary School in Springwood. He also taught Year 6 students and Electronics at St Pius X College, Chatswood. He has German ancestry.

Playing career

Des Hasler began his first grade career with the Penrith Panthers in 1982, but quickly transferred to the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles where he played a total of 255 games and scored 72 tries. Hasler's contact with Manly came by chance. A school teacher at the time working on the North Shore, two of his students were Scott and Brett Fulton, the son of Manly's coach and former Australian captain Bob Fulton. After having played only 12 games for the Panthers in 1982 and 1983, Fulton, on the lookout for a halfback due to not being satisfied with the play of Phil Blake, offered Hasler a trial at Manly and he signed to play for the Sea Eagles in 1984.

Hasler made his debut for Australia in the third test of the 1985 Trans-Tasman Test series against New Zealand at Carlaw Park in Auckland, coming into the team at the expense of Queensland halfback Mark Murray. Unfortunately his debut was soured with the Kiwis defeating a disjointed Australia 18-0.

After a strong 1986 season, Hasler was one of four players (along with Noel Cleal, Phil Daley and Dale Shearer) who were chosen to go on the 1986 Kangaroo tour of Great Britain and France. After playing in the 62-12 pre-tour test win over Papua New Guinea in Port Moresby (coach Don Furner had rested incumbent test halfback Peter Sterling after playing in Parramatta's Grand Final winning team the week before), a hand injury restricted him to just 8 minor games on the tour, scoring 4 tries.

In 1987, Hasler's good form for the league leading Sea Eagles saw him earn a recall to the New South Wales side for the 1987 State of Origin series, eventually won 2-1 by Queensland. Hasler also played from the bench in the 4th 'exhibition' Origin game played at the Veterans Memorial Stadium in Los Angeles won 30-18 by the blues. Hasler then played at halfback for Manly in their 18-8 win over the Canberra Raiders in the 1987 Grand Final, the last ever Grand Final played at the Sydney Cricket Ground. Following the grand final victory he travelled with Manly to England for the 1987 World Club Challenge against their champions, Wigan. Played in front of a capacity crowd of 36,895 at the Central Park ground in Wigan, the home side shocked the Winfield Cup premiers, winning 8-2 in an often spiteful, but try-less game.

The 1988 NSWRL season would see the introduction of pint-sized Manly local junior, halfback Geoff Toovey. Although still playing most of the season as Manly's first choice halfback, Toovey's inclusion in the side, plus Hasler's hard work, strong defence and physical fitness, saw him playing more and more at lock forward for the Sea Eagles in the following years. This would lead him to become known as a valuable utility player being able to cover a number of positions on the field. It was this utility value that saw him selected to his second Kangaroo tour at the end of the 1990 season. He would play in 13 games on the tour, including being selected on the bench for all three Ashes series tests against Great Britain (though coach Bob Fulton did not use any of his bench players for the second test at Old Trafford) as well as the two tests against France.

Hasler's value as a star utility player led to his frequent selection on the bench in representative football. Hasler played 13 State of Origin matches for New South Wales (7 from the bench, 3 at halfback, 2 at five-eighth and 1 at lock), scoring 2 tries during these games. His biography, The Utility Player was written by prominent Australian author and Manly-Warringah fan Thomas Keneally (the author of Schindler's Ark) and was published in 1993.[1]

Hasler also played in twelve Test and World Cup matches for Australia between 1985 and 1991, with his utility value seeing him start 9 of those games from the bench. His final test for Australia (from the bench) came in their 40-12 win over New Zealand in the third and deciding test of the 1991 Trans-Tasman Test series at Lang Park in Brisbane.

After the 1993 season, Hasler spent the off-season playing for Hull F.C. in the English Rugby League Premiership. He later returned to the Sea Eagles for the 1995 and 1996 ARL season. Manly opened the 1995 season with a club record 15 straight wins and went on to claim their first minor premiership since 1987. Hasler had a new role for the season playing mostly at hooker. The team qualified for its first Grand Final in 1995 but despite going in as overwhelming favourites (having lost only 2 games for the year), were defeated 17-4 by the Sydney Bulldogs. Although starting the 1996 season as the teams hooker, the signing of 1994 Kangaroo Tour hooker Jim Serdaris saw Hasler play most of the season from the bench for the Sea Eagles. The team had another great year, winning their second straight minor premiership before going on to defeat St George 20-8 in the Grand Final at the Sydney Football Stadium, giving Hasler his second and last premiership win as a player.

After 257 games for the Sea Eagles over 12 seasons, Manly didn't offer Hasler a contract beyond 1996. Feeling he still had something to offer he then signed with the Western Suburbs Magpies for the 1997 season. He played 21 games for the Magpies alternating between halfback, lock, hooker and the bench, before retiring at the end of the season.

Coaching career

Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles

In 2004, Des Hasler was appointed head coach of the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles. In the 2005, 2006 and 2007 seasons he led the team to the semi-finals for the first time since the late 1990s. Hasler gained the experience of Geoff Toovey as assistant coach in the 2007 season. The team was a contender in the 2007 National Rugby League premiership, and finished second on the NRL ladder, losing the grand final 34–8 Melbourne Storm.

He coached Manly to a record breaking 40–0 2008 NRL Grand Final victory over the Melbourne Storm.[2]

In 2008 he was named the Rugby League International Federation's Coach of the Year at the RLIF Awards.[3]

After failing to win the 1987 World Club Challenge with Manly as a player, he won it with them as coach in 2009.

He took Manly to the finals again in 2009 and 2010, but lost a final in each year to be eliminated from the finals.

He coached his 200th First Grade game on 13 August 2011 when Manly defeated their traditional rivals Parramatta 26–20 at Parramatta Stadium. The win was also Hasler's 117th win as a coach.

In 2011 Manly finished 2nd on the NRL ladder. Manly defeated the Cowboys 42–8 at the SFS for their first finals win since 2008. Manly went on to win the 2011 NRL Grand Final. He was named coach of the year at the RLIF Awards.[4]

A week after leading Manly to the 2011 premiership, Hasler signed to coach the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs in the 2013 season.[5] He initially agreed to continue to coach Manly for the 2012 season, but on 11 November 2011, Manly's board of directors sacked him, alleging "serious breaches" of his contract with rumors rife of the breaches including enticing staff and players to join him at the Bulldogs from 2013. A number of Manly's coaching and administrative employees had announced they would be joining Hasler at Canterbury.[6]

Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs

"When it comes to understanding the policy about he whose name you cannot mention so let's call him Voldemort (Rugby League match officials). So you can't say anything nice about them, you can't say anything positive about them, you can't say anything about the Voldemorts. If you're never getting a free speech it's not too good but anyway that's it we'll move on, when it comes to the Voldemorts I'll just do what the policy says and I'll move on."

- Hasler giving his opinion on the new NRL policy about players and coaches not being allowed to mention the referees at any time otherwise it's a AU$10,000 fine for punishment (2015).

Hasler joined the Bulldogs on 14 November 2011 as head coach for the 2012 NRL season.[7] He had immediate success as he took the club to finish eight places better than the previous season to the top of the ladder and collected the minor premiership. After impressive Qualifying Final and Preliminary Final wins; 16-10 over former club Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles and 32-8 over South Sydney Rabbitohs respectively, the Bulldogs were beaten in the Grand Final by the Melbourne Storm 14–4.[8] At the 2012 Dally M Awards Hasler was named the NRL's coach of the year.[9] In the 2013 NRL Season it was a disappointing season by his and the club's standards as they finished five places lower compared to the last season as they finished in 6th place and got knocked out straight away by the Newcastle Knights in the Qualifying-Elimination final 22-6 at Stadium Australia. In the 2014 NRL Season Canterbury finished once place lower compared to the previous season and just limped home into the Finals Series in 7th place but nobody foresaw what was to happen in the finals that season, Hasler led his 7th placed Bulldogs through three weeks of sudden-death Rugby League to amazingly reach the Grand Final after impressively scalping past Melbourne Storm 28-4 at AAMI Park in the Qualifying-Elimination final, Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles 18-17 after Extra-Time at Sydney Football Stadium in the Semi-final and Penrith Panthers 18-12 in the Preliminary final at Stadium Australia but they ultimately lost to hot title contenders South Sydney Rabbitohs 30-6 in the Grand Final at Stadium Australia missing inspirational captain Michael Ennis but the club, players and Hasler won a lot of creditors in their performances through the finals that year and for reaching 2 Grand Finals in the last three years. In the 2015 NRL Season Canterbury finished two places better than the previous season as they finished in 5th place and missing out on the top 4 by lower points difference to the Melbourne Storm. In the Qualifying-Elimination final, the Bulldogs just snuck home with a 11-10 victory after extra-time with a less than impressive performance over St. George Illawarra Dragons at Stadium Australia and the next week were beaten by title favourites Sydney Roosters 38-12 in the Semi-final at the Sydney Football Stadium after which Canterbury bowed out. In the 2016 NRL Season Canterbury finished two places lower than the previous season as they finished in 7th place, the same position they managed to amazingly reach the Grand Final from two years earlier, but those hopes of a 2014 miracle repeat were immediately crushed in the Qualifying-Elimination final where the Bulldogs after leading 6-4 at half-time were blown away in the second half and suffered a 28-12 defeat of the hands of the Penrith Panthers at the Sydney Football Stadium after which straight away Canterbury bowed out of the finals series to end a overall very disappointing 2016 campaign.


As a player

NSWRFL/ARL Minor Premiership (3): 1987, 1995, 1996

NSWRFL/ARL Premiership (2): 1987, 1996

As a Coach

NRL Premiership (2): 2008, 2011

NRL Minor Premiership (1): 2012


  1. Headon, David (October 1999). "Up From the Ashes: The Phoenix of a Rugby League Literature" (pdf). Football Studies Volume 2, Issue 2. Football Studies Group. Retrieved 7 July 2009.
  2. "Grand final: As it happened". Fox Sports. 5 October 2008. Retrieved 5 October 2008.
  3. AAP (2008) Fox Sports:,20797,24666942-5016947,00.html?from=public_rss
  4. "Slater scoops player award". Sky Sports. 3 November 2011. Retrieved 5 November 2011.
  5. "Canterbury confirm Hasler appointment". Sydney Morning Herald. 8 October 2011. Retrieved 7 October 2011.
  6. Prichard, Greg; Chamas, Michael (10 November 2011). "Desi-mation: Manly stand down dual premiership-winning coach after move". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 6 February 2014.
  7. McDonald, Margie (14 November 2011). "Des Hasler never contemplated a clean-out at the Bulldogs". The Australian.
  8. "Melbourne Storm beat Canterbury Bulldogs in 2012 NRL grand final". News Corp Australia Network. 30 September 2012.
  9. News Limited (4 September 2012). "All the Dally M winners plus galleries". Herald Sun. Retrieved 5 September 2012.
Preceded by
Peter Sharp
1999 and 2003
Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles

Succeeded by
Geoff Toovey
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