Manly coach Trent Barrett has hit back at suggestions Daly Cherry-Evans is unfit to captain the Sea Eagles.
It was a case of another week, another drama for the silvertails with Cherry-Evans the subject of an expletive-laden podcast tirade from former teammate Anthony Watmough on Wednesday.
Watmough lifted the lid on what was a long-running split in the Sea Eagles playing group, slamming Cherry-Evans' behaviour and accusing him of holding the club to ransom over contract demands.
It was yet another slight on the reputation of the No.7 who is often painted difficult to deal with.
Some point to rumours of his blacklisting by the Queensland State of Origin team, his altercation with Jackson Hastings and decision to back out of a contract with the Gold Coast as proof of his distracting presence.
Ultimately, there have been questions about whether he is the right man to lead the club or if the captaincy should be handed to Jake Trbojevic.
However Barrett has come to the defence of Cherry-Evans, describing him as well-liked by teammates and pointing to his game-winning ability as proof of his leadership capabilities.
"We gave him the captaincy for a reason," Barrett said.
"We've got Jake there as our vice-captain and he's still learning. Jake is only very young, he's still in the infancy of his career.
"With Chez, what people don't see is what he does here. He's very popular among the playing group.
"There's probably no other player in this side that works as hard as him. He wears a loss as hard as anyone. What you can never question Chez on is his effort.
"There's been times when we haven't been able to win a few of those close ones this year but last year I think he won us four golden point games. That can't be questioned. He's got our full support."
Barrett said the best reply was to come out and beat St George Illawarra at WIN Stadium on Saturday.
The game is just as important for the Dragons who have a taxing representative period ahead.
Dragons coach Paul McGregor said while he had sympathy for good mate and former teammate Barrett during a trying period, there was no room for sentiment.
"Of course I feel for him," he said.
"That's what mates do, they're there for each other but he knows I've got my job to do and he's got his to do and we're going to go out there with one thing in mind."
STATS THAT MATTER
* The Dragons are away to their best start after 13 games since 2011 when they won 10 and drew one but went on to win just four for the rest of the season.
* Manly save their worst for Saints, winning just nine of 26 matches against them (34.6 per cent).
Source: Fox Sports Stats