|Menzies while playing for the Sea Eagles in 2007|
4 December 1973 |
Manly, New South Wales, Australia
|Height||190 cm (6 ft 3 in)|
|Weight||98 kg (15 st 6 lb) |
|Position||Second-row, Lock, Centre, Five-eighth|
|1995–06||New South Wales||20||4||0||0||16|
|As of 13 September 2013|
|Source: Rugby League Project|
Steven "Steve" Menzies (born 4 December 1973 in Manly, New South Wales, Australia) is an Australian professional rugby league footballer best known for his stellar career with the Manly Sea Eagles. He currently plays for the Catalans Dragons of the European Super League after agreeing a one-year deal which will be his final season in his professional playing career. Menzies has spent the majority of his playing career in the back row but in recent years he has played in the centres, at five-eighth and as a utility player off the bench.
Menzies is a noted defender, but is best known as the most prolific try scoring forward in rugby league. His total of 180 tries is second in Australian first grade rugby league, behind former North Sydney and Manly player Ken Irvine, who scored 212 tries.
He is well known for wearing headgear during games, having done so throughout his entire career, as well as his loyalty to the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles.
Menzies is the grandson of Manly-Warringah pioneer Mackie Campbell who had played in the centres in Manly's first ever game in 1947 against Western Suburbs at Manly's long time home ground Brookvale Oval. While attending Narrabeen High School, Menzies played for the Australian Schoolboys team in 1992. His junior club was Harbord United. As a teenager he turned down an offer of $5,000 from Manly's local rivals the North Sydney Bears to later sign with Manly for $9,000 in 1993.
Professional playing career
Menzies rose to prominence in the Winfield Cup premiership, forming a lethal combination with Five-eighth Cliff Lyons during the 1994 NSWRL season and scoring 16 tries, earning him the Dally M Rookie of the Year and Second Rower of the Year awards. He also came second in the Rothmans Medal, finishing behind North Sydney Bears' David Fairleigh. His season was then topped off when he was selected in the Australian Squad for the 1994 Kangaroo Tour. Although he didn't play a test on the tour, he played in 11 games (4 from the bench) and scored 9 tries, equal with Wendell Sailor, and only behind Andrew Ettingshausen (15), Steve Renouf (12) and Brett Mullins (11) (all outside-backs) in try scoring for the Kangaroos.
Menzies partnership with Cliff Lyons became a lethal combination for Manly in the premiership, and he scored many of his early tries running off a Cliff Lyons pass. This led to the Manly fans at Brookvale Oval nicknaming him 'Jesus' because he ran off the right hand of 'God' (the crowd's nickname for Lyons). One of his greatest assets was his pace. For a second-row forward, Menzies ran with the pace of a Centre and this was often used to good effect, with the sight of the Beaver in full stride scoring a 60-70 metre try becoming common place. His speed, as well as his strong defensive game, also allowed Manly coach Bob Fulton to sometimes play Menzies in the centres if needed.
In 1995 Menzies became the first forward in fifty years to top the season's try-scoring list (22 tries) and in the same year made his State Of Origin debut for New South Wales. His efforts saw him again win the Dally M Second Rower of the Year award, and further representative honours came when he made his test debut for Australia in the first game of the 1995 Trans-Tasman Test series against New Zealand. The Kangaroos swept the Kiwis 3-0, with Menzies scoring his first test try in game two in Sydney, while scoring a double in game three in Brisbane.
Following the 1995 season, Menzies was selected in the Australian squad for the 1995 World Cup. During the tournament he appeared in four games and topped the tournament's try-scoring list with six tries, which consisted of 'doubles' in all matches except the Final where he didn't get on the score sheet. Menzies' most memorable try in the tournament came in the second half of the Semi-final against New Zealand in Huddersfield. After receiving a pass from Andrew Johns 40 metres out from his line, Menzies strode into a huge gap in the Kiwis defence and set sail for the line. Manly team mate and Kiwi captain Matthew Ridge (fullback) couldn't match him for pace, but he looked to be caught 15 metres from scoring by winger Sean Hoppe. Menzies though easily fended off Hoppe and scored his second try for the day, and his 6th and last for the tournament. Despite only Australian Rugby League (ARL) aligned players in the squad which caused many critics to call them a second-string side, the Kangaroos won the World Cup Final at London's Wembley Stadium defeating host nation England 16-8 in front of 66,450 fans. While he did not score in the Final, Menzies did showcase his speed when he lost no ground chasing England winger Martin Offiah in a 40 metre sprint, keeping enough pressure on the man once known as the fastest player in the game until fullback Tim Brasher came across in cover and pushed Offiah into touch.
Steve Menzies appeared in Manly's Grand Final teams in 1995, 1996 and 1997, though the Sea Eagles only won the 1996 Grand Final when they defeated St. George 20-8 at the Sydney Football Stadium. The Beaver scored a disputed try just before half time to give Manly what would be a match winning 14-2 lead at the break. After a Dragons penalty goal, Matthew Ridge had surprised Saints players with a short kick-off which he managed to regather. He was then seemingly tackled by Dragons hooker Nathan Brown (albeit with only one hand), though referee David Manson controversially did not call held and allowed Ridge get up and keep running amid howls of protest from Dragons players and fans alike. In the next tackle after Ridge was finally brought down only 5 metres from the line, Menzies crashed through the defence to score beside the posts. In the process of scoring however he suffered a groin injury and while he did return for the second half, only played a few minutes before being replaced.
It was during this period that Steve Menzies was offered a large sum of money to leave the Sea Eagles and play for the Parramatta Eels. In what would be a common theme throughout his career, Menzies remained loyal to Manly and stayed with the club for less money that he could have been paid elsewhere.
Such was Menzies form for the Sea Eagles in the mid-late 1990's that even when Super League aligned players were chosen for tests and other representative games (State of Origin and City vs Country), Menzies was usually among the first forwards selected to play.
Due to the Manly-Warringah joint venture with the North Sydney Bears as the Northern Eagles from 1999 to 2003, some statisticians do not list Menzies as a "one club player". However, the Manly-Warringah club acknowledges all of Steve Menzies' achievements during this period as part of the Sea Eagles, arguing that he never left the club and that the joint venture was simply another ownership phase as has happened with other clubs whose records are not separated.
In 2004 Steve Menzies surpassed rugby league and Glebe stalwart Frank Burge's record of 'Most Tries Scored by a Forward' when he scored his 147th try against St George Illawarra. Since then Menzies has gone on to amass a tally of 180 tries in 349 games, both club records at the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles. His try tally is only second, behind ex-North Sydney and Manly Sea Eagles player Ken Irvine, in the list of 'Most Tries Scored in Premiership History' (Irvine scored an incredible 212 tries in his 236 games).
When Manly reached the Grand Final in 2007 Menzies was the sole surviving member of the club's last Grand Final appearance back in 1997. He started in his fourth Grand Final against the Melbourne Storm but the Manly side was unsuccessful in securing the premiership trophy.
After speculation on his retirement from rugby league, Menzies announced in October 2007 that he had re-signed with the Manly Sea Eagles for 2008 on a one-year contract, stating that he would likely retire at the conclusion of the 2008 season.
After a record-breaking club career with Manly and the Northern Eagles, Menzies had the opportunity to play in another Grand Final - again against Melbourne. Unlike 2007, Manly were the overwhelmingly dominant side, destroying the defending premiers 40-0 - a grand final record. This triumphant victory penned a fairytale ending to Beaver's distinguished career. By playing in the 2008 grand final, Menzies equalled Terry Lamb's record of 349 first-grade games. He was one of eight Manly try-scorers on the day and completed his playing-career in Australia with 180 tries - second only to Ken Irvine but first among try-scoring forwards. With less than ten minutes left on the clock, Menzies completed his fairytale by scoring a try with his first touch after coming off the bench for a second time, replacing the injured Steve Matai. Menzies is much loved on Sydney's Northern Beaches, not only for his legendary achievements on the rugby league paddock, but also for his ability to avoid controversy in an era riddled with unsavoury off-field incidents involving rugby league players. His efforts in the Grand Final of 2008 will be entered in Northern Beaches and Rugby League folklore and have earned him legendary status, as well as the 'Performer of the Week' award from the Sydney Morning Herald. In anticipation of equalling Lamb's record with his final appearance, Manly was reported to have made Menzies an offer to make a cameo appearance in 2009 to break the record. Menzies' response confirmed his and Lamb's standing among the greats:
"I wouldn't consider coming back for one game and cheapening the record or anything," said Menzies.
"If I fell one short or equalled it or whatever then that's my career and the way it finishes.
"(Lamb) was such a great player ... I'm very honoured to stand next to him.
Menzies announced in July 2008, that he had agreed to a one-year contract with the Bradford Bulls in the Super League for the 2009 season. Manly was unable to offer Menzies a further contract due to salary cap restraints. Menzies stated he could only continue to play overseas as playing against the club he loves "was not an option".
Menzies extended his contract with the Bradford Bulls until the end of 2010. Menzies told BBC Radio Leeds: "I think I've still got a bit to offer and can play another 12 months. "My first choice was to stay at Bradford so it's great that they wanted to keep me."
After being released by Bradford Bulls at the end of the 2010 season, Menzies signed a one-year deal with French club Catalans Dragons. The season started poorly for the side from the south of France, but the Dragons soon became one of the form sides in Super League. The legendary forward signed a 12 month contract extension with Catalans, which would see him stay in Perpignan until the end of 2012
In September 2012, Menzies announced yet another one-year contract extension with the Catalans Dragons. The former Australian international, who in 2012 became the oldest player in Super League history, will start his 21st professional season in 2013.
Menzies announced his forthcoming retirement as a rugby league player on 4 July 2013. He stated that the current (2013) season would be his last. He explained his decision as "I'm still enjoying playing and I feel good mentally and physically, but it was the right time to finish. My biggest fear was to play one season too long and I'm happy with my decision."
Menzies played his last game at the KC Stadium in Hull on 13 September 2013. Catalan Dragons were eliminated from the Superleague playoffs, losing 14 points to 4 against Hull FC. After the match, the Hull fans paid tribute to Menzies as he joined the Hull players in the Lap of Honour.
In addition to those shown, Menzies also played 11 tour games (no tests) for Australia on the 1994 Kangaroo tour where he scored 9 tries. During his 20 year career at both club and representative level (not including Kangaroo tour games), Menzies scored at the incredible rate of a try for every 2.05 games he played, or a strike rate of 48.65%.
|New South Wales||20||4||0||0||16||1995-2006|
- "Dragons Catalans". web page. Dragons Catalans S.A.S.P. 2011. Retrieved 11 June 2011.
- "2009 NRL Player Movements". NRL Live. 4 October 2008. Retrieved 4 October 2008.
- "SportingPulse Homepage for Australian Secondary Schools Rugby League". SportingPulse. Retrieved 10 October 2008.
- Steve Menzies at nrlstats.com
- Money magazine, April 2009 edition, pg16
- "Menzies signs one-year deal with Manly". Fairfax Digital. 23 October 2007. Retrieved 25 October 2007.
- Performer of the week - Sydney Morning Herald
- "STEVE MENZIES ANNOUNCEMENT - update". Manly Sea Eagles. 17 July 2008. Retrieved 17 July 2008.
- FitzGibbon, Liam (17 July 2008). "Beaver heading to Bradford". Fox Sports News (Australia). Retrieved 19 July 2008.
- "Warrington dominate Exiles picks for Origin fixture". bbc.co.uk. 4 May 2011. Retrieved 4 May 2011.
- "Steve Menzies announces retirement". Sporting Life. Retrieved 13 September 2013.
- "Super League: Hull FC 14-4 Catalan Dragons". BBC Sport. Retrieved 13 September 2013.
- Menzies, Steve; Tasker, Norman (2008). Beaver: the Steve Menzies story. Allen & Unwin. ISBN 9781741755602.