If there is a reason out there to like Manly, for those who don't particularly, it is Joe Galuvao. He is a fibro in a silvertail's jersey, full of south Auckland blood, western Sydney muscle and who represents Manly only because of a maroon polyester-blend covering.
He has played with two western Sydney teams and even been let go by South Sydney, after the club went all Armani. He lives in St Marys and occasionally commutes to training.
He also just happens to be part of a select group of players. Only four men previously have played in three or more grand finals with three different clubs: Phil Sigsworth, Glenn Lazarus, Anthony Mundine and Kevin Campion. And on Sunday Galuvao will join them - it will be his third grand final, after winning with Penrith in 2003, losing with Parramatta in 2009, and running onto ANZ Stadium as a starting front-rower for Manly.
"It was a dark day when I was given the No.8. I had to check to see if it was a typo." ... Joe Galuvao. Photo: Steve Christo
That he will do so against his first club adds to the symmetry for Galuvao. But, as he says, he was a world away from the 19-year-old who made his debut as a fullback for the Aucklanders, covering for the ex-Manly No.1 Matthew Ridge against the Roosters in 1998.
Could he have ever imagined that, as a teenage fullback, he might find himself one day running out in a grand final as a front-rower? Perhaps not. It has certainly become a running joke at Manly since he was ceremonially given the No.8 jumper. ''It was a dark day when I was given the No.8,'' Galuvao said. ''I had to check to see if it was a typo.''
But the front-rower suits part of Galuvao's make-up - the younger, meaner side, who grew up on the streets of Manurewa, south Auckland, getting into fights and trying to be the tough guy.
''You look back at how you grew up and the things you got up to in that area - you look back and say, 'I used to be that kid, in the corner there, taking those shoes off the doorstep','' he said.
Or fighting. ''I got beaten up on most occasions,'' he says.
''I was a bit of a loose cannon. I got into trouble a lot. But I knew if things kept going the way they were, I wouldn't be in the position I am. I've seen guys I grew up watching who had more talent than I have, but through partying, it took them in a different path.''
There were worse paths than just mixing with the wrong crowd, too. When he was still a teenager, a school friend committed suicide.
''It affected everyone at school, but in particular me,'' Galuvao said. ''He was one of my close friends. It was pretty shattering, because you think you have it all. You can be all smiles, and all laughs, but on the inside … no one saw it coming.
''It was then I fumbled my way into church. Life can swallow you up and spit you out, if you don't have a good support base, and good people in your life. If I'm feeling bad, and I'm putting on this great facade, who can you talk to?''
There were periods Galuvao wondered which direction he was headed. The Warriors, who were having financial troubles, let him go in 2000, and he wondered if his career might be over only a few years after it began. But he remained positive.
''I was a realist at the time. My theme in life is, 'you can only control what you can control'. Whether I was playing footy or not, I was going to put 100 per cent into what I was doing. That was my approach to life.''
He was eventually picked up by Penrith and, the following year, found himself in a premiership-winning side, a stocky but powerful second-rower with long hair.
''We didn't think we were going to make it,'' Galuvao said.
Manly back-rower Shane Rodney, who played with Galuvao in that grand final, said this week that his former and current teammate was in similar form to those days. But the best thing about him is he appears not to have changed off the field. He is wiser, maybe, but a humble and hard-working family man who sometimes catches a train, a ferry and a bus to training.
Asked whether he considered himself a fibro or a silvertail, Galuvao said: ''Just call me a Manly man,'' he said. ''I love where I am out in west Sydney. I would have moved to the northern beaches if I could afford it. Once of the reasons I stayed is my kids are there - they grew up there, my wife works there. I love the area, love the people.''
That's why winning on Sunday, as wonderful as it would be, would not be everything to Galuvao. He will still go home to be with his wife, Maybelle, and his two children. ''It's not the be-all and end-all of life,'' he said of football. Even this week.