Behind the rise of the Stewart brothers By Nick Walshaw | August 08, 2008 12:00am http://www.news.com.au/dailytelegraph/sport/nrl/story/0,26799,24145308-5012652,00.html Heart and soul ... Brett and Glenn Stewart and (inset) them as kids. / The Daily Telegraph THEY'RE here because of the shirt. That little blue tee every kid received at the start of a Narrabeen footy camp way back in 2001. "Yeah, all the boys got one for free," former Manly recruitment man Keith Onslow recalls. "And every morning when they came out to train, this one skinny kid always had his on. "So I started watching him. Watched day after day as his shirt got blacker. And playing flag footy, mate, he went well. "So at the end of the week I gave him another shirt to take home . . . jotted down the name Brett Stewart, too." Fast forward seven years and it's hard to believe it took a filthy black T-shirt for someone to sign Brett and Glenn Stewart. These barnstorming brothers and Sea Eagles superstars. The greatest pair seen in Manly since Baywatch Down Under. Already this season the siblings lead Manly's tries and tackles. Second for runs and tackle busts. And of the 11 games played without them since 2004 . . . well, the club has won only two. "So if one of the Stewart boys don't play," Manly veteran Steve Menzies concurs, "yeah, we notice." Yet despite the compliments, comparisons and coastline photo shoots, this is no Olsen twins package deal. Because, sure, the Stewarts were signed same day, debuted same year, still share a unit on the northern beaches. But Manly fans don't see through the eyes of Barry Stewart, the old man who insisted his boys' initial contracts be identical. No, they saw only Brett. The kid who revealed his plan to be an NRL superstar at seven. Who was practising his signature at 13. The fullback who has now scored 46 tries from 49 games at Brookvale Oval. "Oh, I remember going on school visits with Glenn," says hooker Matt Ballin, "back when the only question anyone asked him was 'How's your brother?'." And why not? More popular than a Beijing bicycle rack, "Snake" Stewart owns a whopping Reebok deal, NSW and Kangaroo jerseys and the Sexiest Man In League title. Cleo use him as a model, Diabetes Australia as an ambassador and Aussie women . . . well, just glance through the 528 friends on his Facebook site. "Like David Beckham he translates commercially," says manager George Mimis, quick to plug another upcoming campaign dubbed Gods Of Football. "Brett is articulate, good looking, one of league's most marketable players." So, how does all this sit with the other fella. You know, the Stewart who once went some 20 weeks without shaving? "Oh, mate, growing up my favourite player was Rod Wishart," Glenn shrugs. "Fans follow the blokes who score tries." And no one, of course, scores with greater consistency than Brett Stewart. Well, maybe Gene Simmons. But Snake's 79.8 per cent strike rate still beats Greg Inglis, Billy Slater and every other NRL player. Glenn, in comparison, has always been more toil than toe. The late bloomer who ran headlong into a letterbox during his front yard footy days, only to front again next morning looking like a lifesize six-stitcher. "So you never ask if Glenn's injured," older brother Barry Jr smiles, "you just take an X-ray." Today, however, this 180cm dynamo is much more than a fella who made the most one-on-one tackles in 2007. Now he boasts a game with 25 offloads. A dozen try and linebreak assists. The only chink in his armoury being a fear of . . . wait for it . . . clowns. "Oh, mate, that's been blown out of all proportion," Stewart laughs when quizzed about his coulrophobia. "Yes, I find clowns strange. "But if one walks past me, I won't s . . . myself." If only the Manly boys could say the same. Because while the Stewarts are viewed as NRL cleanskins, well, there's been rumours. They're key suspects, for example, in a sting that saw five Sea Eagles with mayonnaise underneath their car door handles on Wednesday. Ditto coach Des Hasler's mobile being glued to a ceiling and the disappearance of his beloved Doc Martens last year. "Doc Martens? Nah, know nothing about them," Brett shrugs. "Although Dessie might want to check Nik Kosef's pub on the Gold Coast . . . there is talk about them being there." OK, so petty criminals they may be. But the Stewart boys are also as humble and grounded as one expects of a coalminer's son. Glenn lists his favourite item as the telly. "Snake", "my bed" - but for reasons unexpected of a Cleo Bachelor nominee. "Mate, I love to sleep. I'm talking get up at 10, have breakfast, then sleep till two." Again, Siamese twins these blokes are not. Brett, the bloke who looks around a poker table and can't find the mug. And Glenn, sitting opposite, smiling. For proof ask Manly media man Peter Peters, bluffed into folding with pocket aces. While Glenn, well, he won the $600 with a seven-two offsuit. To find a worse hand, you'd have to watch Captain Hook. "But that's them, both different but great kids," laughs Onslow, now with the Knights. "Like after that camp when I phoned Brett to congratulate him on making a NSW Country side and said, 'Gee the Dragons must be happy'. "He said, 'Keith, I don't think the Dragons rate me. Don't think they rate Glenn either. That's my brother. Actually, did you know there's two of us . . .' "