NRL finals: Melbourne Storm and Manly don’t like each other and the enemies will stare each other down in a qualifying final

Joel GouldNCA NewsWire
Glenn Stewart and Adam Blair started the ‘Battle of Brookvale’ in 2011. Brett Costello.
Camera IconGlenn Stewart and Adam Blair started the ‘Battle of Brookvale’ in 2011. Brett Costello. Credit: News Limited

Holiday with them one day, rip into them the next.

As they prepare to face off in Friday night‘s qualifying final on the Sunshine Coast, Manly and Melbourne’s entrenched rivalry can be understood when you talk to the nice guys that have played for both teams.

Sea Eagles legend Steve Menzies was in the Manly side that lost star fullback Brett Stewart with concussion just after halftime in the 2007 decider to an infamous shot by Storm hardman Michael Crocker.

“I know Crock and he is a legend. I caught up with Crock last year and we did a bit of a trip up the coast, but put a Melbourne jersey on him and if I had to play him tomorrow I’d try and rip into him,” Menzies said.

Melbourne beat Manly 34-8 in the 2007 grand final, but the Sea Eagles returned the compliment the following year with a 40-0 victory in Menzies‘ last game for the club.

“(The rivalry) stems from those two seasons,” Menzies said.

“We got beaten pretty convincingly in the GF in 2007 … and then obviously there was the tackle on Snake (Stewart) and seeing him taken off just adds to it.

2011 Best of Brett Costello. Glenn Stewart and Adam Blair continue their fight on the sideline after being sent to the sin bin, that led them both to be then sent off during Manly Sea Eagles v Melbourne Storm NRL game at Brookvale Oval in Sydney.
Camera IconGlenn Stewart and Adam Blair started the ‘Battle of Brookvale’ in 2011. Brett Costello. Credit: News Limited

“He was going down and at the time you thought he was wiped out. (Crocker) hit his arm or shoulder on the head. You‘d get sent off in today’s game.

“We played them in the grand final twice, so when you are the best two teams in the comp for two years you can build something pretty special, then you add in the ‘Battle of Brookie’ (in 2011) and it just keeps going.”

Manly captain Daly Cherry-Evans was a rookie in 2011 when Brookvale Oval erupted in a melee after Adam Blair and Glenn Stewart went at each other. He then understood what the rivalry was all about.

“I didn’t realise it was different until the night we played them at Brookie in 2011 and there was that fight. The older players at the time taught me what a rivalry is and they made it known it was more than just a footy game against Melbourne,” Cherry-Evans recalled.

“I certainly don’t have any intention of turning that rivalry into a physical fight this week, but right then and there that’s when I understood the two clubs have a history with each other and they were the rivalry games you wanted to win.”

Only Storm co-captain Jesse Bromwich remains at the club from 2011, although he did not play in the Battle of Brookvale.

Fellow co-captain Dale Finucane said he knew about the history of the rivalry via the Storm stars that played at the time.

“Those events happened before my time. Whenever you are involved directly in something you feel more passionate about it, but talk to guys like Ryan Hinchcliffe and Cameron Smith who played in those games and they have a more genuine dislike for them,” Finucane said.

“As a spectator I saw the 2011 all-in brawl and the Michael Crocker tackle … but those events can’t happen today. Times have changed.”

Originally published as NRL finals: Melbourne Storm and Manly don’t like each other and the enemies will stare each other down in a qualifying final

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