Manly Brett Stewart out on top as No.1 tryscoring fullback
Manly Brett Stewart out on top as No.1 tryscoring fullback ahead of 200th game for Sea Eagles
DEAN RITCHIE THE DAILY TELEGRAPH SEPTEMBER 17, 2014
ON the eve of his 200th NRL game, Brett Stewart is now simply the best.
The Daily Telegraph can reveal that Stewart has the greatest tryscoring strike-rate of any fullback in rugby league's 106-year history.
Stewart has crossed 145 times in 199 appearances for Manly at a remarkable strike-rate of 0.729 tries a game.
No other fullback in the game - past or present - can top Stewart, whose tryscoring exploits will be desperately needed for the Sea Eagles's elimination semi-final against Canterbury at Allianz Stadium on Saturday night.
And Stewart sits 12th among all players for tryscoring strike rates, sitting marginally behind some rugby league legends, including Reg Gasnier, Harold Horder, Frank Burge, Ken Irvine, Eddie Lumsden, Ian Moir, Benny Wearing and Johnny King.
Stewart is certainly in elite company.
"I wasn't really aware of that until you showed me the list", Stewart told The Daily Telegraph.
"I feel very honoured to be in among those names that you showed me.
"Rugby league has a thick history.
"I am chuffed to be among those names. They are big names there."
This will be Stewart's 200th NRL game for Manly - a remarkable achievement for a player cut down at times by serious injury.
He has shown resilience, courage and skills many players could only pray for.
And his tryscoring feats are simply sublime.
"I think instinct has got a lot to do with it", Stewart said. "I've also been blessed by being in the same team with some good halfbacks.
"Probably none better than the two I am playing with at the moment (Kieran Foran and Daly Cherry-Evans).
"That obviously helps, knowing each other's game. Plus just a lot of hard work on the training paddock."
Stewart will need to be a leader if Manly is to stay alive this weekend. Belted by South Sydney last Friday night, the Sea Eagles look vulnerable.
Asked about his milestone, Stewart said: "I don't want to take the focus off the big game, the elimination final, but I am very privileged to say I am up to 200.
"It's a great club, very historic. If someone had told me 10, 12 years ago that I'd play 200 games, I probably wouldn't have believed them. I feel honoured."
His teammates were full of praise for Stewart.
"Brett is a legend here at the club", Manly centre Steve Matai said. "Two-hundred games is massive, especially for one club.
"He is definitely been one of the core group of players that has been here for a long time. I am sure we will all step-up for him and it will be a proud moment for him and his family."
Prop Jason King added: "Brett is one of the best players to pull on the maroon and white jumper, that's for sure.
"The way he been able to adapt his game as well. He was renowned for his speed earlier in his career and had a few nasty injuries too.
"But now he has become a ballplayer, a provider for his teammates. His is an integral part of our team."
Manly will have to erase the memories of a nasty start again Souths, the Sea Eagles behind 40-0 early in the second half.
"We will come back to training and work on the little things", Stewart said. "We just did video and picked up a few things.
"I think they (Bulldogs) will probably try and come through the middle, just like Souths did. We have a lot of work to do around there, we're not shying away from that."