CANTERBURY CONNECTION: MANLY SEA EAGLES
The Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles were trail-blazers when it came to attracting Kiwi rugby league talent across the Tasman, starting the trend in the 1960s thanks to the acquisition of some of Canterbury’s greatest players.
The famous club has hosted some of the region’s most iconic rugby league characters through the decades since.
Two West Coast products who represented Canterbury and New Zealand with distinction, Jock Butterfield and Trevor Kilkelly, were both lured to Sydney’s northern beaches by the Sea Eagles in 1964.
Butterfield, a veteran of 36 Tests for the Kiwis who was later named at hooker in New Zealand’s Team of the Century, played 10 first grade games, while 11-Test forward Kilkelly turned out in the top flight five times.
The decorated duo played alongside revered figures of the era such as Tony Paskins, Frank Stanton, John ‘Pogo’ Morgan and Bob Batty. Butterfield stayed in Australia to have stints with country clubs in NSW and Queensland.
Tough-as-nails prop Mark Broadhurst made his provincial debut for Canterbury in 1975 while at Papanui and earned his Kiwis stripes four years later after linking with Marist-Western Suburbs.
The enforcer joined the star-studded Sea Eagles in 1981 and played 44 games across two seasons. His stay at the club is perhaps most remembered for his infamous stoush with Newtown hard-man Steve Bowden in the violent 1981 minor semi-final, while Broadhurst was denied a grand final appearance the following season after dropping out of the first grade line-up on the eve of the playoffs.
Broadhurst went on to play 24 games for Illawarra in 1983 before spending three seasons with English club Hull KR.
Adrian Shelford earned his first Kiwis call-up from the Hornby club for the 1985 tour of Britain and France before transferring to the Upper Hutt City Tigers. A Test regular, Shelford was a foundation Newcastle Knights player and won a stack of silverware under coach Graham Lowe at Wigan.
It was that connection with Lowe that saw the highly-rated prop join Manly midway through 1990, reconnecting with the legendary Kiwi mentor in Sydney and playing in the Sea Eagles’ last 11 games – including two finals matches.
Finishing his professional career with two seasons at Wakefield Trinity, Shelford tragically died in England in 2003, aged just 39. His son, Kyle, has played for Wigan and Workington Town.
Hami Shelford, Adrian’s brother and another product of the Hornby club, played one first grade game for Lowe’s Sea Eagles in 1991, featuring in the second-row in a 9-8 loss to Newcastle – with Knights great Paul ‘Chief’ Harragon his opposite number.
Sydnenham Swans product David Vaealiki made his name as an exciting outside-back for Parramatta from 1999-2004, also playing seven Tests for the Kiwis.
After three seasons with Wigan, Vaealiki returned to the NRL in 2008 with Manly, but played only the first two games of the season in the centres for the eventual premiers before linking with French rugby union club SC Albi.
Christchurch-born Pita Godinet earned his NRL spurs with the Warriors in 2011, before spending the 2014-15 seasons with Wakefield Trinity.
Equally dangerous at hooker, fullback or in the halves, the livewire became a Samoa Test regular, and came back to the NRL via the Sea Eagles in 2016. Godinet played two first grade games at five-eighth for Manly, but exclusively played for feeder club Blacktown Workers Sea Eagles thereafter prior to picking up a deal with Wests Tigers for 2018.
An outstanding contributor at club level for the Warriors and Penrith from 2009-15, Riccarton Knights’ favourite son Lewis Brown joined Manly in 2016.
The veteran utility has played 39 straight games after arriving at the club, and has played 48 games in the maroon and white in total but found it difficult to forge a spot in Manly’s top 17 in 2018, making just two first-grade appearances. Brown spent most of the season in the NSW Cup, leaving him stranded on 198 NRL games when he announced his retirement.
Brown has also played 15 Tests for New Zealand, becoming just the second Canterbury product to represent the Kiwis while at Manly (after Broadhurst) when he featured at hooker in the 2016 Anzac Test.