Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles: Oh what a night

2008 was a special year for the National Rugby League and, in particular, Manly.

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2008 was a special year for the National Rugby League and in particular Manly. For starters, it was celebrating 100 years of the League itself while a special Centenary Test was played between the Kangaroos and Kiwis to celebrate the international game. Whilst among other notable things from that year were the Rabbitohs, Cowboys and Bulldogs occupying the bottom three positions on the table. That while Cronulla finished the campaign in third spot. 

However, the most memorable event to come from that one-hundredth season was the Grand Final played between the two best teams of the year in the form of Manly and Melbourne. One season earlier the Storm had dismantled the Sea Eagles to the tune of a 34-8 scoreline in the decider. However, in front of a packed out ANZ Stadium this time around it was Manly inflicting the pain as they beat Melbourne 40-0 in what was the biggest Grand Final win by any side in the history of the game. It even eclipsed the Roosters 38-0 1975 then record win over St George. It was a history breaker.

Now ten years on from that historic and smashing victory, let’s look back on every one of those eighteen Premiership winning heroes and what they are up to today.

1. Brett Stewart

That campaign the ‘Prince of Brookvale’ was considered arguably the best fullback in the world and he had both constant speed and tries within him. And although injuries and a fallout with the club hurt his departure, the man who played 233 games and scored 163 tries for Manly will never quite be forgotten. 

While he currently runs his own cafe in Melbourne, he is quite comfortably enjoying his post-Footy life.

2. Michael Robertson

He bagged three tries that day and would have had four if he didn’t very unselfishly throw in a pass to Steve Menzies to allow him to score in his last ever game for Manly. He ended up with a very nice 68 tries for the Maroon & White. While post-Manly he bagged 18 meat pies in 41 games for the London Broncos. Robbo had a very nice career which also featured playing Country Origin and representing Scotland at the 2008 Rugby League World Cup.

3. Steven Bell

Bell forged a very nice eleven-year career which among the highlights featured a five-game and a two-try effort for Queensland. Steven was a member of the 2007 and 2008 Manly teams, while post the Sea Eagles in nearly 50 games for Catalans in France, he scored 17 tries. He is also the man responsible for scoring the last ever try in the 2008 Grand Final when he put the ball over the white line in the 75th minute of the match.

4. Steve Matai

Matai was a hard-hitting hitman who always had an unfortunate problem with injuries for a lot of his career. He was never one to be afraid of holding back on the field while he received ten caps playing for the Kiwis. During his prime, he was considered one of the best in his position in the game. He ended up with 91 tries for Manly while he also kicked two goals in the 2008 Grand Final victory.

5. David Williams

Affectionately nicknamed the ‘Wolfman,’ his career was unfortunately cut short due to injuries. Despite that, he still scored 66 tries in 105 matches for Manly. While he also represented all of City, NSW, and Australia scoring seven tries in the process. While playing in the NRL, he was involved in a match-fixing incident that severely harmed his reputation. And off the field he has done both a bit of modeling and a bit of acting.

6. Jamie Lyon

He played an outstanding 226 games for the Maroon & White, scoring 86 times along with 533 goals. He also had 10 games for NSW along with eight for Australia. Throughout his career, he featured in a couple of Grand Finals while he was never quite far from controversy. That being whether it was fans criticising his decision to retire early from the State of Origin arena or when Parramatta fans chucked coins at him upon his announcement of moving on from the club. 

7. Matt Orford

Before coming to Manly he made himself a household name at Melbourne. Then while defecting to their major rivals he lost in the 07 Grand Final. However, as well as winning the ’08 one he was also the Dally M Medal winner that year. Post-Manly he had a failed stint in England as well as in Canberra where he lasted just six games during 2011. However, one match saw him kick the game-winning field-goal in pretty much his only highlight in his very short stint in the Nations Capital.

8. Brent Kite

Kite was a great servant to Manly. He won two Premierships with Manly as well as representing them in another two Grand Finals. Post the Sea Eagles he played 25 matches for the Panthers during the 2014-15 campaign. His representative career saw him play 14 games for Australia and six for Tonga, while also representing NSW 10 times. He was a forward who always put his body on the line for his side and emphasises something that everybody in his position should be.

9. Matt Ballin

If it wasn’t for Cameron Smith occupying QLD’s no.9 jersey, then Matt Ballin would have represented his state so many more times than just the one that he did. For Manly, he appeared in an awesome 217 games and was a tirelessly working player who always gave it his all. Unfortunately, injuries cruelled the end of his career as he made just three appearances for the Tigers before calling it quits. 

He’s done some work for Lowes as well of the field not to mention some commentary/media rugby league related things.

10. Josh Perry

Perry represented the Green & Gold on four occasions, while NSW four and NSW Country five. However, for the first two mentioned it should have been many, many more as his work was sometimes overlooked by more ‘glamorous’ players. After starting of his career in the Hunter Valley where he played 142 games he then went on to make 69 appearances for the mighty Sea Eagles. Post that he represented St Helens in the English Super League with 44 games under his belt.

11. Anthony Watmough

He never shied away from the controversial side of things. There was the occurrence where he was caught urinating in public and the other incident where at the clubs season launch in 2008 he was involved in a bit of a scuffle (mainly him). While most recently he called out Daly Cherry-Evans and called him a di*k head. However, on the field, he was an absolute beast playing 16 games for Australia and 14 for NSW. He too had a falling out with the club and played with the Eels before he decided to hang up the boots.

12. Glenn Hall

Throughout Hall’s career, he represented the Bulldogs, Rabbitohs, Roosters, Sea Eagles, Bradford and Cowboys in a career that spanned an impressive 220 matches. He was a prop who never took a backward step and hit hard. And he has currently gained a few pounds from his playing days. While his most recent game of rugby league was for Townsville in their 2015 Intrust Super Cup Grand Final loss to Ipswich.

13. Glenn Stewart

The hard-charging Stewart brother was good enough and strong enough to play for NSW five times as well as Australia five times. Post-Manly he played a season for the Rabbitohs making 18 appearances. Then for Catalans playing in 30 games. Then finally to end his career which was only a year ago (2017) he represented Leigh with 24 games under his belt. He was another one of Manly’s legendary players to unfortunately leave the club on bad terms however what he did for the club and achieved for the side will never be forgotten.

14. Heath L’Estrange

Post the Sea Eagles it was off to Bradford, Sydney and St George where he had a pretty successful end to his career. While an interesting fact about L’Estrange is that despite never having played for France he was in fact named in their 2008 Rugby League World Cup team. While he was able to secure his early move to the Roosters after being able to leave his contract with the Bulls on compassionate grounds.

15. Mark Bryant

He used to send his opponents all the way back home with the type of hits he’d dish out. After he left Manly he played for the Crusaders and had 80 appearances under his belt, then when they folded he moved to the London Broncos for a bit. Bryant also started his Rugby League career off with Canberra making seven appearances in total for them. In total, he played 239 games in what was a very long and successful career for Bryant.

16. Jason King

King is a lawyer and somebody who is obviously a very smart and knowledgeable bloke. While in 2010 he was named the co-captain of the club alongside Jamie Lyon. Unfortunately, injuries prevented him from making more appearances for NSW while that sadly meant he never got to play for the Kangaroos. His debut despite him being a winner for most of his career was a 42-14 loss to Brisbane as a member of the Northern Eagles in 2001.

17. Steve Menzies

He has his own book, is extremely funny and is Northern Beaches born and bred. Not to mention he was very, very loyal to Manly throughout the entirety of his career. There’s absolutely nothing you can’t like about him!  Post-Manly he played 57 games for Bradford crossing the white line 27 times. Then for Catalans playing in 71 games, he scored 31 tries. While he fittingly scored a try in the 2008 Grand Final in what was his last game for the club. In total, he scored 151 tries for Manly (excluding Northern Eagles) and is an absolute role-model to kids everywhere, no matter what team they support.

Des Hasler

He coached Manly for 206 games and a win percentage of 59%. Along the way, he won two Premierships to go along with another Grand Final. And despite his ominous defection from the club, what he did will always be there until the end of time. Then it was onto Canterbury where his winning percentage was 57%. Despite not winning a Grand Final he still made two of them before he was eventually sacked following a poor finish one year. Hasler after his sacking took the Bulldogs to court before they eventually reached an out of court agreement. That is the last club the legendary coach has been at.

There you have it, the 1-17 reviewed as well as Dessy Hasler. No matter what club you support it was an insane win. They turned the tables on Melbourne that match and they didn’t even see it coming. While one thing that’s for sure is that a lot of different directions were taken after that strong, strong victory!

What are your best memories from Manly’s stunning 2008 triumph? Let us know in the comments below.



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