He has been around for what seems like forever, the likeable Steve Menzies is a much respected icon in our game. However, we won’t see too much more of the Beaver in the NRL after this season finishes. The Manly veteran has today signed with UK Super League team Bradford – with Menzies confirming he didn’t want to play against the Sea Eagles with another NRL club.
At 34 Menzies is running freely and in quality form, an integral part of the Manly side – he would certainly be at home for at least another season in the NRL, but the man they call ‘Beaver’, will finish his 16 years in Australian Rugby League and the NRL with a lucrative deal for next season.
Certainly considered one of the NRL’s greatest clubman, his loyalty to the Sea Eagles unlike anything seen in todays NRL.
Totaling 338 appearances for Manly and the defunct Northern Eagles Menzies well ahead of other leading one-club players – Cronulla’s Andrew Ettingshausen (328) and Canberra’s Jason Croker (318).
Manly chose not to offer Menzies a deal for NRL season 2009 with the salary cap weighing heavily on the club and for Beaver, there was no other option locally – so it was time for a major change.
â€œThat wasn’t an option, to play against Manly,â€ Menzies said. â€œGrowing up in the area and always supporting Manly and living here, it’s the club I love and always will.
â€œSo it wasn’t really an option to run around against them.â€
Menzies confirmed he has no hard feelings about the situation he found himself in with Manly and hoped his loyalty to the Sea Eagles would could be reproduced in the future with younger players coming through the Northern Beaches club.
â€œEven when I was 6 or 7, I always wanted to play for Manly and once I played first grade and played here for a few years, I could never really see myself playing for anyone else,â€ Menzies said.
â€œYou look at some of the local juniors here, the Anthony Watmoughs, the Jason Kings and Brett Stewarts, if those type of guys, if they can take a leaf out of my book then Manly’s going to be in good hands for the future.â€
Menzies closes in one even more records within the NRL as he is only 12 games shy of breaking Bulldogs and Wests great Terry Lamb’s all-time NRL appearances record of 349 games.
He could make it a fairytale farewell and eclipse the mark in this year’s NRL grand final, provided he plays in their remaining eight round games and the Sea Eagles go all the way. A huge call, one that many will be hoping can come to reality for the popular NRL icon.
Ironically, the NRL leading Manly Sea Eagles’ hot run of form could cost Menzies his big milestone.
If they finish the regular season first or second and win their opening finals match, it would mean they earn a week off in the second week of finals.
Menzies said he was unconcerned about the milestone and would look back on his career with pride no matter what happened this season.
â€œThat’s never going to come into the equation, having to break the record,â€ Menzies said.
â€œEven if I fall one short and miss a game, that’s the way it goes and I’m proud of what I’ve done.â€
Several other English clubs were reportedly interested in Menzies, including Salford and Widnes, but he said after a â€œtough decisionâ€ he chose the Bulls because of their rich rugby league history.
Menzies said playing a further year in England was a possibility and also said he could return to Manly in some other capacity in the future.
In the meantime, he said the fact he was leaving the NRL would take time to sink in.
â€œI don’t think it’s really dawned on me,â€ said Menzies, who will release an autobiography next month.
â€œIt’s a sad time I suppose having played my whole career here, but obviously it’s a new adventure for me and definitely one I’m looking forward to.â€