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March of the Manly Sea Eagles misfits

Discussion in 'Rugby League Forum' started by swoop, May 24, 2013.

  1. swoop

    swoop Well-Known Member 2017 Tipping Competitor

    +1,543 /26
    IF you believe the weirdest whisper, this yarn goes back to Auckland in the 1960s.

    Centred on one of those Once Were Warriors pubs where, out in the carpark, the grandfathers of Justin Horo and Stephen Kearney went the knuckle. Trading punches with such ferocity, the ensuing stink would split lips, noses and families.

    This is why young Justin is now at Manly, says the whisper. Why Kearney not only refused to play Horo for all but six games last year, but eventually helped ensure his $200,000-a-year contract was never renewed.

    "Wow, great yarn isn't it?" laughs Mark Horo, the retired Kiwi international and father of Justin. "But I have to tell you it's not true.

    "Steve and I, we actually played two years of Test footy together. We got on great, our wives were friends and I still say hello to him now. But why he didn't rate Justin ... mate, who knows?"

    Certainly it's a question being asked with increasing frequency.

    Especially this week as, with the NRL now 10 rounds in and humming, Horo emerges as a key component of the toughest team in Australia's toughest sport.

    Replacing Kangaroo Tony Williams on the Sea Eagles' left edge, the backrower isn't only beating the $600,000 Canterbury signing in almost every conceivable statistic, but running what insiders will tell you are "far better lines than T-Rex ever did".

    Call it the other story of Manly circa 2013.

    What league fans would be talking about if Kieran Foran wasn't playing tougher than Chinese arithmetic.

    Or Daly Cherry-Evans doing the unthinkable - pressuring Queensland's Origin halves.

    It's a story of revived players like Horo. And Tom Symonds, the redheaded forward whose contract is being paid almost entirely by the same Roosters club that dumped him for 32-year-old Luke O'Donnell.

    While Des Hasler once built the Sea Eagles around CVR ratings, incumbent coach Geoff Toovey has instead gone deeper into the wilderness than even Alby Mangles would have dared.

    No stranger to battles won against the odds, Toovey has sought out the unknown, the unloved, the unwanted.

    He's compiling something like his own little army of misfit toys which, led by Horo and Symonds, also include prop Brenton Lawrence, fullback Peta Hiku and interchange forward David Gower.

    You can throw Richie Fa'aoso into the mix too ... right after he returns from another suspension.

    And the better they go, the more fans from their previous clubs offer up the same question: Why?

    . .
    "Why did the Eels not want me? I'm not sure," Horo says. "About a month before the season started, the recruitment officer called me into his office and said our new coach Ricky Stuart was going in another direction.

    "I hadn't played a lot of footy and Parra had some young guys, players like Kelepi Tanginoa, coming through. I guess when you look at where I am now though ... it's been something of a blessing in disguise."

    While Horo signed with Manly just two days before pre-season training started, Symonds inked his own contract 24 hours before the first game. And then there's Hiku - the boom fullback who, unsure of league only five years ago, is now filling the boots of no less than Brett Stewart.

    Signed for just $70,000, the 20-year-old lives in a Sea Eagles share house while saving up bonuses so that he can move partner Faith Kohunui and daughter Ada Jane, two, with him to Sydney. Part of the rise and rise of a schoolboy rugby star who "basically fell into league".

    "It was when my older brother William had a serious car accident," Hiku tells League Central.

    "We were living in Gisborne at the time but, because my brother needed such extensive treatment in Auckland, our family just up and moved there.

    "Up until that point I'd played rugby. But in Auckland, the only people I knew were my cousins and they played league. So that was it ... one day I just went and had a run with them."

    Representing the Manurewa Marlins, Hiku's rise was so rapid that after agreeing to join Manly midway through last year, he went on to represent the Junior Kiwis and was the Warriors' Toyota Cup Player of the Year.
    Lawrence, meanwhile, is the 106kg Gold Coast Titans discard who, in a Canberra Starbucks some 10 years ago, told leading NRL manager Gavin Orr there was no use signing him because "footy just isn't for me, mate ... I'm quitting the Raiders to join the airforce".

    Given Orr had been following Lawrence since his schoolboy days in South Australia, he was shocked. But not quite so surprised as when the big unit popped back up in a Big League program four years later.

    "I rang my brother Chris and said, 'There's a kid playing with Burleigh who has no idea how good he can be,'" the manager recalls.

    "Within six months he was full-time at the Titans. When he couldn't get a run I brought him to Manly with Horo."

    And while we'd love to bring you full circle to that Auckland carpark, the real reason for Horo's Parramatta demise is club legend Nathan Hindmarsh.

    Confused? Well, it seems that despite Horo being a destructive ball-runner on the left edge, the Eels wanted him to take over that middle role held by the retiring Hindmarsh.So they stripped him of seven kilos, kicked him in the guts and then told him to find another club.

    "And first thing Manly did was put all the weight back on me," he shrugs. "So I've got more punch when I run, more confidence to handle that whack in defence too."

    And as for any new goals?

    "Well," he grins, "I'm 26 and have never played finals footy."

  2. Pittwater Legend

    Pittwater Legend Well-Known Member

    +1,163 /34
    Wow so many things that you can comment on about that story from a personal and football point of view. It pretty much outlines how we've gotten everything right with our recruitment and how others clubs are making huge mistakes.

    Hiku would have known he was going to be a father at age 17. He has made a huge gamble to move to another country with a young family. I hope he succeeds as he looks like a very skillful and versatile player. It's good to see a young guy like him who is committed to making a better life for himself and those around him.

    Horo is 26 and has never played finals football. Well son you have made the right move to Manly. We've made the finals every season well before your first grade career even began.
  3. HappilyManly

    HappilyManly MWTS Premium Member 2017 Tipping Competitor

    +19,035 /368
    Great read about the rough diamonds of Manly :angel:

    The Manly Rejects include almost every one of our NRL side.
    Wolfie,Hoz rejected by Parra,
    DCE and Matty rejected by Broncos,
    Gifty rejected by Aints,
    BJ by Titans,
    Tommy by Chooks

    May they all play finals footy in 2013 :)
  4. globaleagle

    globaleagle Je saisis mon chapeau. Staff Member Premium Member 2017 Tipping Competitor

    +13,354 /117
    We're the footy version of the movie "Money Ball!!"

    And it's nice of the rorters to be paying most of symonds contract for us.
  5. HappilyManly

    HappilyManly MWTS Premium Member 2017 Tipping Competitor

    +19,035 /368
    But the mystery just deepens about the Chooks Salary cap then :huh:
  6. lsz

    lsz Well-Known Member Staff Member 2017 Tipping Competitor

    +4,851 /102
    Interesting that the two most successful teams - us and te storm follow a similar recruitment style
  7. manlyfan76

    manlyfan76 Parra Trolls are the best. Premium Member 2017 Tipping Competitor

    +8,068 /174
    Chooks don't have a salary cap. Simples.
  8. Mark from Brisbane

    Mark from Brisbane Living the dream Premium Member

    +19,684 /383
    Great story!!
  9. Dan

    Dan Kim Jong Dan Staff Member Administrator 2016 Tipping Competitor 2017 Tipping Competitor

    +7,753 /120
    great read, got to feel for Hiku being away from his wife and kid, that would kill me
  10. globaleagle

    globaleagle Je saisis mon chapeau. Staff Member Premium Member 2017 Tipping Competitor

    +13,354 /117
    Why? Are you great friends with Hiku's wife and child?!

  11. tookey

    tookey Well-Known Member 2017 Tipping Competitor

    +5,801 /186
    Yes it shows how much the young kids have to sacrifice to try and make it big in the NRL.
  12. The Who

    The Who Well-Known Member Premium Member

    +7,261 /173
    Great read. An endorsement of our recruitment policy and all those who make decisions about who to sign and how much to pay. Obviously having a successful club like Manly makes recruitment a little easier, with many players opting for on-field success rather than money.
    BTW, who was our last recruitment guy? Didn't I read a couple of years ago that his leaving would be the deathknell of our success? Guess it proves it is the club that maketh the man - not the other way around.
  13. Mark from Brisbane

    Mark from Brisbane Living the dream Premium Member

    +19,684 /383
    Yes what was his name again???

    I heard that Greenturd was SPEWING when they lost Warwick and had to settle for Cru$her...hope you are enjoyibg the gig over there Noel???

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