Manly have moved to shore up their playing roster with durable hooker Matt Ballin recommitting to the NRL club until the end of 2017.
After missing out on the signatures of Daly Cherry-Evans and Kieran Foran, the retention of Ballin for two more seasons comes as something of a coup for chief executive Joe Kelly, after the two-time premiership winner was linked to an exit from Brookvale.
Manly are in the hunt for at least one big-name playmaker to replace their departing superstar halves and Ballin’s signature adds some stability to the struggling Sea Eagles moving forward.
Ballin debuted for the Sea Eagles in 2007 and holds the record for the most consecutive first-grade games for the club with 182 successive appearances.
The 31-year-old will play his 200th match for Manly on Saturday against Canberra in Albury and was relieved to have his future sorted.
“I couldn’t be happier with the opportunity to remain a one-club player,” Ballin said.
“My family and I would like to thank (majority club owners) the Penn family, (coach) Geoff Toovey and staff for their loyalty, as well as past and present players that I have played with.
“I play the game because of the friendships and bonds that are formed within a rugby league team.”
Kelly welcomed Ballin’s move.
“Matt encapsulates everything we look for in players at our club, hard working, committed and professional, Kelly said.
“He is a truly valued clubman and ambassador. We are thrilled to see him extend, knowing that he will finish his NRL career at the Manly Warringah Sea Eagles.
“Matt shows incredible leadership and commitment on and off the field and I’m pleased to see that continue into the future.”
Toovey added: “Matt is one of the toughest players to ever wear the jersey.
“He puts in every single week, leaving nothing on the field and I couldn’t be happier that he has re-committed to the club.”