Willie O leads Manly Marlins to 1997 Shute Shield title

By Jon Geddes The presence of one of international rugby’s most devastating forwards proved instrumental in Manly’s 1997 victorious Shute Shield campaign. Amazingly, the legendary Willie Ofahengaue did not figure in the plans of NSW Waratahs coach Matt Williams that year. And the Marlins could not believe their luck as they welcomed the powerhouse backrower back to the club with open arms. “It was great for us, we had him for the majority of the season,” said then Manly coach Tim Lane.      The Marlins lost only three games through the entire competition and, not surprisingly, Willie O played a big role in that. “We had a players’ player award which was a meal at (Manly restaurant) Ribs And Rump and I think Willie won it 11 out of the 15 times he played for us,” Lane said.  “Every game, as he should, he stood out - he carried the ball well and he defended well. He went about his business and didn’t moan - which was just his way I suppose.”
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