In 1990 New Zealand born coach Graham Lowe, took over as coach of the Mighty Sea Eagles. Lowe came to Manly with a glowing reputation from his stint guiding UK Glamour club Wigan.
He managed to coerce a number of his countrymen to join him at the Sea Eagles in 1990, most notably Tony Iro, Adrian Shelford and Matthew Ridge. These players contributed greatly to an unexpectedly successful season when Manly was narrowly beaten by Brisbane in the semi finals.
However Lowe was extremely close to Tony Iros brother Kevin, the Wigan
juggernaut who had terrorised the English competition as a barnstorming centre in the mould of Mal Menniga.
With the Kiwi connection firmly in place at Brookvale it appeared to be only a formality that he would join the Sea Eagles and so he did in 1991. This led to almost unrestrained joy on the Peninsula, the club had secured arguably the worlds number 1 centre. Finally we would be able to combat the likes of Canberra Raiders and the Brisbane Broncos with the Iro brothers leading the way.
The club had paid out an absolute fortune to secure Iros services and fans expectantly waited to see a return for the investment. However the fans were sadly disappointed with Iros early performances. He had been used to playing with the Poms who in those days thought defence was what you put round your front yard (get it!). The boys who played in the Sydney comp could actually tackle and tackle hard!
Kevin wasnt comfortable with this and essentially the way he was playing he couldnt crack an egg, let alone a defensive line. The fans who had waited so long were extremely disappointed with Kevin and they took their frustrations out on Kevin during the game, generally with vocal abuse.
Worse still, his lack of fortitude appeared to effect his brother Tony, who had been a more than useful contributor as a hard running winger cum second rower, in the season prior. They both played like Sunday school choir boys for the majority of the season but the team still managed make the semi finals in 1991.
It was in this semi final campaign that the real Kevin Iro finally stood up. The team was decimated by injury when they met premiership favourites, Canberra at the SFS. A virtual reserve side took on the might of the Green Machine and was only beaten by a late try from the Raiders. Cliff Lyons and unbelievably Kevin Iro led a bunch of youngsters from the front in one of the nerve racking matches even seen. Although we narrowly lost this game I left the stadium extremely proud to be a Manly supporter after such a gutsy display this was Iros best match by far in the Maroon & White.
Manly struggled in the tumultuous 1992 season until a sick Graham Lowe retired due to ill health. The Kevin Iro of that 1991 semi final never reappeared and he left the club at the end of 1992 after 24 games to play back in the UK where scones and tea were served to the players before games, not fire and brimstone required in the ARL. He once again terrorised English defenders and his somewhat shattered reputation was restored in the eyes of many a judge, however they were mostly one eyed Kiwi fans. It is doubtful that any true Manly fan would think of Kevin Iro as anything but an overpaid malingerer.
Kevin Iro what do you think?