This is the eighth article in the series about players who only briefly represented your club, this time looking at the Manly Warringah Sea Eagles.
Manly entered the competition in 1947 and have been a very successful club through the years. Over 620 players have turned out for the Sea Eagles, and they certainly have their share of club legends and household names. Players like Cliff Lyons, Anthony Watmough, Steve Menzies, Max Krilich, Bob Fulton, Fred Jones, Bob Batty and Rex Mossop are well known throughout the rugby league world.
But there were many players whose time on the northern beaches was comparatively short, and I wonder how many of them you remember today.
Here’s a team made up of players who, for one reason or other, played only a handful of games for Manly.
1. Tim Dwyer
Dwyer played 12 games for the Sea Eagles in 1988 and was travelling well until he broke his jaw in a match against Balmain late in the season. He was a tough player, though, and played on for the rest of the match. He moved on to Easts for the next two seasons, playing another 14 games in first grade, before finishing his career in England.
2. David Meyers
Meyers was an English international at both junior and senior level who played 200 first-grade games in his nine-year career, primarily in England. He had a brief stint with Manly in 1991, though, playing in four games.
3. Greg Austin
Born in Australia, Austin played almost all of his 296-game, 12-year career in England. He was an absolute try-scoring freak, notching up 283 first-grade tries in his career, including nine for Manly in the 15 games he played for them in 1987-89 seasons in the English off-seasons.
4. Col Bentley
Bentley played the first seven seasons of his career with Penrith, where he was a regular first-grader, playing in over 100 games. Unfortunately he was less successful in the time he spent at Manly in the 1993 and 1994 seasons, playing in only three first-grade games. He returned to Penrith the following season.
5. Nick Bradley-Qalilawa
NBQ was a big, powerful ball runner who came to Manly from Wests for the 2004 season and was selected in first grade on 11 occasions. He then headed to England for a couple of years before returning to the northern beaches for another four games in the 2007 and 2008 seasons. He also played four games for Fiji.
6. Gene Ngamu
Ngamu was a very talented half who didn’t really hit his straps until he joined the Warriors in 1995 after nine games for Manly and one for Souths across three seasons. He played 25 international games for New Zealand.
7. Jye Mullane
Mullane was a bit of a journeyman and came from Cronulla to Manly for the 2004 season, where he played 12 games. He then headed to France to play both league and union for a number of years.
8. Phil Adamson
A big forward, Adamson came to Manly towards the end of his career in 1999 after spending the previous eight years with Parramatta and Penrith. He played seven games for the Sea Eagles before finishing his top-grade career in England.
9. Elwyn Walters
Walters was a tough, durable hooker and a legend of the game. Part of the Souths superstar forward pack from 1967 to 1973, Walters moved to the Roosters for the 1974 to 1976 seasons before finishing his first-grade career with Manly in 1977, playing just five games. Walters played 11 games for New South Wales and 20 Tests for Australia.
10. Dragan Durdevic
Durdevic had a very brief NRL career, playing just two games for Manly across the 1997 to 1999 seasons before turning out with the Northern Eagles in 2000.
11. Laurie Freier
Freier was a very good back-rower who came to Manly in 1975 after five relatively successful seasons with Easts. He played nine first-grade games for Manly during the 1975 and 1976 seasons before embarking on a brief coaching career.
12. Ray Higgs
Higgs began his career in Queensland before joining Parramatta for three seasons in 1975, during which time he was one of the best forwards in the game. Higgs was a tough forward who never took a backward step, won the Rothmans Medal in 1976, captained Parramatta, played nine Tests for Australia, seven games for NSW and three for Queensland. He had less success with Manly, though, after making the move to the northern beaches in 1978, playing just eight first-grade games, and then returned to Queensland for the balance of his career.
13. Matt Nable
Nable was a Manly junior who played five games for the club over the 1991 and 1992 seasons. He then moved to Souths and the UK without much further success before kicking off a successful career as a writer, actor and TV presenter.
14. Jock Butterfield
A versatile Kiwi forward, Butterfield’s career spanned some 20 years in New Zealand, Sydney and in the New South Wales and Queensland bush. He spent only one season with Manly, playing ten first-grade games in 1964 at the age of 32. A Kiwi legend, he played 99 times for New Zealand, including 36 Tests, over a ten-year international career.
15. Fred Teasdell
A strong running back-rower, Teasdell was a Manly junior and played 14 games for the club between 1980 and 1982. He moved to Norths in 1983 and had six successful seasons with the Bears.
16. Lindsay Drake
Drake was a mobile back-rower who made his debut for Manly in 1970 and played ten first-grade games with them over the next two years before moving to the Dragons for the 1972 to 1975 seasons. He then returned to Manly to finish his career and played a further 12 top-grade games for the club over the 1977 to 1979 seasons. He played one game for NSW.
17. Steve Norton
A talented ball-playing English back-rower, Norton was a legend of the game, notching up nearly 500 top-level appearances, primarily in England. His only stint in Australia was with Manly during the 1976 and 1977 seasons when he played 32 first grade games. Norton played over 20 Test matches for both England and Great Britain.
Some honourable mentions among the forgotten players include Dempsey Joy, Ian Barkley, Paul Shaw and Shane Neumann.