Daniel Gartner came through the Manly junior ranks with some illustrious company, players like Menzies, Kosef, Hopoate all came into grade at the same time and these players formed the core of the successful Manly sides of the mid 1990s.
Gartner came from good footballing stock, his father Clive was a Bulldog stalwart while his cousin Russell was the star Manly centre of the late 1970s.
He came to Manly as an outside back but after a serious knee injury in 1993 he moved into the second row where he used his size and pace to great effect.
A reserve in the 1995 grand final loss to the Bulldogs, Gartner formed a lethal back row combination with Steve Menzies and Nik Kosef the following year which took Manly all the way to the 1996 premiership. This combination which took the Eagles to two consecutive grand final appearances is arguably the club’s greatest back row in its 60 year history.
His strong running and the ability to step off both feet made him a handful for the opposition defensive teams. He scored many long range individual tries running wide of the ruck on the right hand side of the field, like Menzies he relished running off mercurial five eight Cliff Lyons.
He was part of the Manly side that suffered a last minute defeat to the Newcastle Knights in the 1997 ARL grand final and was almost close enough to Andrew Jones to prevent him making the pass to Darren Albert who scored the match winning try.
After the Manly merger with Norths he played 19 games for the Northern Eagles and his form suffered in line with the disastrous union of the two old foes. Northern Eagles coach Peter Sharp preferred veteran Adam Muir as the joint ventured went into the second and what would be the final season.
Regrettably for Manly supporters of the merged team he moved to the UK in 2001 to play for Bradford in the Super League. Here he regained his form and was one of the key players that lead the Bulls to Challenge Cup, World Club Challenge and Super League trophies in the following seasons.
Gartner played 120 games for the Sea Eagles scoring 35 tries and although injury saw him unable represented his state he played one test for Australia against PNG.
Daniel Gartner – a great 2nd rower and a great example of what the merger did to Manly