Just as one club legend makes his return to the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles in the form of Des Hasler, another will also be coming back to the Northern Beaches.
Former Sea Eagles and Test star Noel ‘Crusher’ Cleal has agreed to work under the management of Hasler again, being named in the club’s head of recruitment role.
Cleal was regarded as one of the game’s best recruitment managers after seeing special talents in the likes of Manly greats Daly Cherry-Evans, Jamie Lyon, Kieran Foran, Steve Matai, as well as now NRL stars Damien Cook and Michael Lichha.
Currently residing in Beechwood near Port Macquarie, Cleal will return to the Northern Beaches of Sydney sometime within the next fortnight to begin his role.
During Manly’s golden years under Hasler when they made grand finals in 2007, 2008 and 2011, Cleal was Hasler’s recruitment manager and was a massive contributor to the Sea Eagles success during those years.
Cleal spoke to the Daily Telegraph and says he still has the music within him to resume the role.
“I am absolutely happy to be back, especially with Des being back,” Cleal said.
“It was an opportunity too good to refuse. I cannot wait to get my nose in the trough again.
“When Des rang, I jumped at the chance. I am over the moon and am really looking forward to it.
“There is plenty of talent at Manly that the club can build on.”
Cleal has played 10 Tests for Australia, as well as 13 State of Origin matches for NSW.
He managed 125 games for the Sea Eagles between 1983 and 1989, which saw him score 43 tries in the second-row position.
Just like his on field play, Cleal has made a big impact off the field in the recruitment role, spotting many of the talented players in the NRL today at a young age.
When appointed as the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs recruitment manager, Cleal saw a young Cook playing in the fullback position in the St George Illawarras lower grades before bringing him across to Belmore.
Cook is now the NSW hooker and recently just won the Dally M Hooker of the Year award for 2018.
Cleal also spotted Cherry-Evans performing above and beyond in suburban Brisbane grades before luring him to Manly, as well as bringing Jamie Lyon out of little Wee Waa in 2000.