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In our latest Ladies who League blog, Mary Kaye looks at the Parramatta Eels heading into the Round Four clash against the Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks for the annual Johnny Mannah Cup. 

You can catch up on Mary Kaye's blogs at Ladies who League here.

It’s funny how life works sometimes.

Sometimes when you least expect it, something happens to put things back into perspective.

I had one of those moments on Monday.

I would be lying if I said I wasn’t extremely disappointed following the Parramatta Eels 26-14 point loss to the Gold Coast Titans on Friday night.

Silly errors. Lack of discipline. Impatience. These are all words I could use to describe that performance.

But no matter how disappointed I was with that performance, I know it’s nothing compared to how each member of the team felt when that final siren went.

After such an impressive start to the season, to lose to a Titans team ravaged by injury was certainly not part of the plan.

I was still feeling flat about the game on Monday, but then I logged onto social media and found out the news that our captain Tim Mannah and his kind, patient and gorgeous wife Stephanie had given birth to the couple’s first child, Capri Rose Mannah.

The birth of a child is always an occasion to be celebrated, but how fitting that Capri decided that the most appropriate week to arrive into the world was ahead of the weekend where the rugby league community pauses to celebrate her late-uncle, Johnny.

Be at our opening home game in 2017!

Johnny Mannah passed away on 18 January 2013 from Hodgkin’s lymphoma and on Saturday night, the Eels will play the Cronulla Sharks for the Johnny Mannah cup in his honour.

Johnny was first diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2009. His battle with this insidious disease lasted three and a half years. Following his diagnosis in 2009, Johnny fought his way back to full fitness and even managed to play another 12 games for the Cronulla Sharks.

Despite the fight he showed in 2009, Johnny had another relapse in 2011 while he was playing for the Wentworthville Magpies, finally losing his battle in January of 2013.

The Johnny Mannah Cup game was first played in 2013 in order to make sure that Johnny's passion for rugby league is never forgotten and that his memory lives on long into the future.

Everyone who met Johnny (including myself on a number of occasions) was absolutely inspired by his tremendous joy for life and his courage as he continued to fight his diagnosis with dignity and grace.

He tackled his diagnosis with such a positive attitude and filled people with such joy, no matter his condition.

He was a true gentleman and a role model for our game and the NRL is a much sadder place without his fabulous smile.

I always encourage fans to get out to games and cheer on their team in person, but this week it is more important than ever – not only to celebrate the life of Johnny Mannah but also to be there for our first home game of the season.

Whilst ANZ Stadium is no Pirtek Stadium, it is our home for the next three years while our new home is being built. Let’s make the most of the next three years and turn ANZ Stadium into a fortress.

Finally, congratulations to Tim and Stephanie, it’s such a privilege to be able to welcome the latest lady who leagues into the Parramatta Eels family.

I look forward to seeing all of you at ANZ Stadium on Saturday night – let’s turn it blue and gold.

Acknowledgement of Country

Parramatta Eels respect and honour the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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