As Brett Stewart prepares to move into rarefied circles, the Manly custodian has been hailed as the key to kick-starting his side’s NRL season.
The two-time premiership winner requires just two four-pointers against the Sydney Roosters at Allianz Stadium on Saturday night to move into the top four of the game’s all-time leading try-scorers.
After scoring in his comeback from a hamstring injury against Cronulla last week, he moved to 163, trailing Canterbury great Terry Lamb by just one and two behind Cronulla’s Andrew Ettingshausen.
Manly’s new era under coach Trent Barrett looked shaky after losing their first two matches of the season but Stewart proved the difference-maker when they righted the ship with a 22-12 win over the Sharks at Brookvale.
Roosters coach Trent Robinson was full of praise for youngster Tom Trbojevic, who filled in for Stewart during the first fortnight, but said the eight-time NSW fullback was the beating heart of the Sea Eagles and they were a different side with him on the park.
“Tom Trbojevic is a really good player of the future and then having Brett come back in, he’s guided that team for many years, for almost a decade now, having him there is really important,” Robinson said.
“It just gave them a bit of direction, a bit of calmness and there’s no doubt it’s one of the reasons they won (against Cronulla).”
Dubbed the Prince of Brookvale, due to his astonishing try-scoring rate at the Sea Eagles’ home venue, he is also prolific at Allianz Stadium, having scored 15 times there in 17 games, including seven in his last seven.
“I’d say he’s got a pretty good try-scoring record everywhere,” Robinson said.
“He’s always someone that you’ve got to watch.”
The NRL’s top 10 try scorers of all time
* Ken Irvine (212)
* Steve Menzies (180)
* Billy Slater (172)
* Andrew Ettingshausen (165)
* Terry Lamb (164)
* Brett Stewart (163)
* Matt Sing, Hazem El Masri (159)
* Nathan Merritt (154)
* Harold Horder (152)