Two-time NRL premiership coach Des Hasler is the master of instilling an underdog status in players, according to his former Canterbury captain Michael Ennis.
Hasler won two premierships at Manly as a player and then another two with the Sea Eagles as a coach in 2008 and 2011.
Hasler left the club for eight years to coach the Bulldogs, before returning this season and he's turned Manly's fortunes around. The Sea Eagles finished 15th last season but now look set to play finals again.
Ennis played under Hasler for three seasons at the Bulldogs and said the coach had an incredible ability to draw the best out of his players
"He's got this unique way of being able to turn the whole competition against your club, where he instils this belief in amongst the group that no one rates them," Ennis said on NRL360.
"Basically no one rates us, no one thinks we're a good footy side and we're going to slip in under their guard and ambush them, and he loves it.
"He builds this belief in his players through this incredible defensive system that he has and the backbone of it all is his work ethic.
"When you're under Des' regime, you can try and surprise him and get to the club at half-past six in the morning but he's already there, and he never ever leaves before the players do. Then that work ethic becomes infectious in the group.
"Their first fortnight was awful (this season), to the point where you thought 'Will they win a game this year'. But Des has slowly but surely galvanised the group exactly the way he did at Canterbury when he got there in 2012 (and went on to win the minor premiership)."
The fifth-placed Sea Eagles face table-toppers Melbourne on Saturday and Ennis said there was no club Hasler enjoyed beating more than the Storm.
"It's great in Melbourne week when you're under Des Hasler because of the rivalry there. He loves playing Melbourne, he loves it," Ennis said.
"The intensity of the joint just went through the roof, it was like it caught on fire."
Australian Associated Press