Manly have the edge on bench: Menzies - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Manly have the edge on bench: Menzies

By David Beniuk 01/10/2008 08:45:22 PM Comments (0)

Manly's bench have the edge in experience on their Melbourne rivals, says Sea Eagles legend Steve Menzies who will be sitting there when Sunday's NRL grand final kicks off.

Rival coaches Craig Bellamy and Des Hasler both named six-man benches for the ANZ Stadium decider but Menzies, who has filled in at centre, five-eighth and in the back row this season, is sure to begin his record equalling 349th first grade game there for Manly.

"I think both benches are pretty similar, we might have a little bit more age and experience than their bench but it is a 17-man game and that's going to be a big part of it," Menzies said.

Menzies' comments are backed up by the figures, with the Sea Eagles' interchange men, still to be trimmed by two, having played 32 more games than Melbourne's this season, and scored twice the number of tries - 18 to nine.

Menzies said flexibility was the key to when he would take the field in his last NRL game before moving to English Super League club Bradford next season.

"Most of the time I start on the bench I'm thrown on a bit earlier than what the plan is," he said.

"I suppose it's until someone, one of the forwards, need a rest. Obviously I'm not going to change with the front-rowers.

"Between the 20 and 30 minute mark, 15 to 30 minutes, a couple of weeks ago Belly (centre Steve Bell) was gone I think in the kick-off ... so I was on a little bit earlier.

"These types of games players can get a little bit tired a little bit more than normal because it's going to be a pretty hectic pace.

"So that's the plan but to stick to that is going to be pretty tough I think."

The Sea Eagles and Storm players got a first chance to eyeball each other on Wednesday night on stage at a fan day at Sydney's Luna Park.

A calm and focused looking Manly side contrasted with the more fidgety Melbourne squad.

"Obviously the majority of the (Manly) guys have been through grand final week," Menzies said.

"It's a crazy week no matter how you look at it.

"I don't know whether you can say, `look don't get up tight or don't stress out or don't think about the game' because there's so much going on during the week that's part of grand final week.

"Even if you try and shield the guys from as much of the public eye of the media as you can during the week, it's still a unique week and you can't find it anywhere else in rugby league so to have experienced it before, yeah, the guys are a little bit more relaxed (than last year).

"(There's) a little bit of a better feeling, definitely."

Menzies, though, would not be drawn on Melbourne's demeanour.

"I was too relaxed," he quipped.

"I had a little glance over and I'm not much of a body language expert, I wouldn't know what it means."

But the 34-year-old champion, who was part of Manly's last premiership winning side in 1996, said the end of his NRL career was beginning to dawn on him.

"I've been pretty good. Not until we had the media day the other day and everyone said `have you thought about it, have you thought about it?'

"And now I have thought about it a little bit more so it's going to be hopefully a good experience to go out on, a little bit sad definitely."

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