Mannah: Honour and privilege to do what we do
As the Dyldam Parramatta Eels entered their final week of training ahead of the Christmas break,they continued their annual tradition of visiting the Children’s Hospital at Westmead and Ronald McDonald House, Westmead, to spread some Christmas cheer.
“We are pretty fortunate as a club to have the connection we do with the Children’s Hospital at Westmead,” Eels prop Tim Mannah said.
"We are pretty lucky that we get to pop in as often as we do and gain some of the experiences we get here."
30 of the Eels squad joined their Head Coach Brad Arthur to hand out candy canes and Blue and Gold gifts to the kids, and gift cards to their parents to help put a little extra under the Christmas tree.
“We come here to put some smiles on kids faces and I know it’s a bit cliché but every time we come here, everybody leaves really touched and we get a lot more out of it than the kids do. It’s a real privilege and a real honour that we get to do what we do.”
“It’s cool that we get to form ongoing relationships with some of the patients but it is also a bit unfortunate that those relationships are on going, because it means that they are always in here and they are continuing their treatment. All the kids in here are very special and they all have their special journey.”
When his focus switches to football, inspirational leader Tim Mannah believes the Blue and Gold are in better shape than ever.
After their pre-season training camp to Seattle and a torturous few weeks of field and gym training, Mannah says the Blue and Gold are in prime form.
“This is the most excited I’ve been to tackle a preseason. I know every year, every team says we trying to get bigger, stronger, faster but on a personal level, this has probably been my best opportunity to perform physically,” Mannah said.
“We have a new trainer, Paul Devlin, who has done a great job in terms of helping everyone reach their physical peaks and Brad and the rest of the coaching staff have made a huge gain in their second season.”
“We aren’t starting from scratch anymore and we aren’t going through too many of the basics that we learn in the first 6-7 weeks like we did last offseason. We have a bit of a head start and players are able to become the best they can be individually.”
After missing out on the 2014 Finals, the Blue and Gold know they cannot be complacent in their approach to training. Whilst the team has not set any specific goals for the 2015 season, the players know they need to make the most of each and every training session.
“Brad and the coaching staff made it real clear that we are going to be a lot more physical and are going to have more of a presence around us. We have worked really hard in the gym and I can safely say this is probably the toughest gym sessions we’ve had in a long time at this club and we are starting to see some rewards” Mannah said.
“You see some of the young guys in our squad and they are physically freaks. It’s exciting to train alongside some of these guys and realise that everyone is improving and everyone is getting better.”
The Eels welcome new faces into the squad, and along with the experience gained by the young Blue and Gold squad last year, the team is in a strong position heading into 2015.
“I think we are pretty fortunate to be in the position that we are that we have quality leaders around the team, whether they are captains or not,” Mannah said.
“Anthony Watmough has added a lot to our leadership and our coaching staff have done a great job to develop players that take responsibility in their own performances and in their own actions so it is a lot easier when you have the set up that we have at the moment.”
Mannah, who is entering his ninth season in the NRL, is making a conscious effort to continue his leadership amongst a relatively young squad.
“Growing up I was really fortunate to have a lot of really great leaders who took time to mentor me and took time to invest into me as a player. I feel as we get older as players, its our responsibility and our duty that we are returning that favour and making sure the young guys have a lot of help and support around them,” Mannah said.
“It’s definitely a part of my game that I want to work on over the next few years, to make sure I am open and available and being more intent around my help with the younger players.”
And while the Blue and Gold are confident with the gains they have made during their preseason, the squad is not getting ahead of itself.
“Its easy to get excited at this time of year, and I’m sure every team is thinking the same thing, so we can only worry about our own backyard and see how we can get better as a squad,” Mannah said.
“I think the really good thing for us was Seattle. Seattle was really good in allowing the new and the young boys to really gel. We came back and felt like we had been together for a few years so it worked wonders for team bonding.”