Ricky’s NRL Interviews Pt 24: Michael Witt

Former Parramatta Eels half Michael Witt

The Parramatta Eels, Manly Sea Eagles, New Zealand Warriors and St George Illawarra Dragons all enjoyed the play of Michael Witt.

Witt also ventured to England with stints for the Crusaders and the London Broncos.

He provided the NRL and the English teams with some stand-out moments.

A talented half, injury cut his career short but he reflects on footy, England and his career post-footy.

Enjoy the read and the answers from the man himself:

1. What are your earliest memories of rugby league? 

I remember playing with my oldest brother for the Newtown Lions in Toowoomba.

He made a break run pretty much the length of the field and waited in the in goal for me.

Once I got there, he gave me the ball and I dived over to score.

2. You made your debut with the Parramatta Eels; what do you recall from the game and was it an opportunity you were expecting?

Paul Green was injured the week before so I thought I may be a slight chance to play.

I had started the season really well in reserve grade and we had won our first 3 games.

I remember getting the call from coach. I was pretty nervous.

We were playing the Roosters who had just come off winning the GF the year before and they had some huge names in Fittler and co.

Michael Witt playing for the Manly Sea Eagles (photo courtesy of Getty Images)

3. Your time at the Eels came to an abrupt end when the club decided not to retain you despite your contract; what ran through your mind when that happened and what prompted your move to Manly?

I got a call out of the blue from Noel Cleal who I lived with when I first moved to Sydney.

He was now at Manly and said we want you here.

That’s all I needed to hear and we got the deal done pretty quickly.

4. The New Zealand Warriors were your next side; what was it like across the Tasman and run us through that famous 2008 win against the Melbourne Storm when you scored the winning try? 

My wife and I loved our time in Auckland.

I rang Steve Price when I received an offer from the Warriors and he gave the place a huge wrap so we decided to take the leap.

That try, well, it was never in doubt.

Capped off an amazing game where no-one gave us a chance to win. We were super confident that day.

I put the ball down (eventually) but it was the 2 guys who touched the ball earlier in that play that came up with amazing play.

Jerome [Ropati] & Manu [Vatuvei].

Michael Witt during his playing days for the New Zealand Warriors

5. You moved to England and played for the Crusaders and the London Broncos; what prompted the move to England and looking back, how was your experience over there?

It was an opportunity really.

I had a short stint in Rugby which didn’t go great so I decided to take the opportunity over there.

I always wanted to play in the UK.

Probably not that early in my career but we really enjoyed our 4 years over there.

6. You returned to the NRL with the St George Illawarra Dragons but injuries cut your career short; was it tough not being able to go out on your own terms?

Yes it was. Certainly not the way you picture finishing your career.

These things happy in footy. I had the opportunity to play on but decided to call it a day.

My eldest daughter was about to start school and we didn’t want to move her around.

Michael Witt at the St George Illawarra Dragons

7. Post-rugby league, have you remained involved with the game in some capacity and how do you keep busy now?

Not really.

I decided this year to get back and do a little coaching with the U18 Burleigh Bears who play in the Mal Meninga Cup.

That only lasted 1 game with Covid 19 hitting and our season was cancelled.

8. If you could give advice to any budding rugby league players, what would it be?

Always use your manners and look after the people who help you alone the way ?

Former rugby league player Michael Witt

 

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