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R 26 NRL Manly Sea Eagles vs Penrith Panthers at Lottoland  . Picture : Gregg Porteous

The ‘Prince of Brookvale’ Brett Stewart made a joyful return ‘home’ last Sunday.

In this EXCLUSIVE interview, the very private ‘Snake’ spoke to Manly Media Manager, Wayne Cousins, about his farewell lap of honour, the fans, to his most memorable try at Brookie.

WC: What did the invitation from the Manly Club to do a lap of honour mean to you?

BS: ‘It meant plenty. It was good to say thank you to the Manly fans. They have given me a lot of support and strength over the years. It was my chance to thank them for everything they have done for me.  Many probably don’t know what their support did for me during my career. I am forever grateful for it. The Manly fans and everyone around the community stuck by me through thick and thin. Sunday was my chance to thank them and I thoroughly enjoyed it’.

WC:  During that lap, we asked you to stop at the ‘Snake’s Alive’ sign. You have her a hug, too. A nice touch, Brett.

BS: I will never forget that sign. There were a few good signs during my career, especially through the tough times that stuck out for me, and that was one of them.

WC: As you approached the hill, you dropped to your knees and bowed to the fans. Tell us about what the hill meant to you?

BS: I just wanted to do something a bit different. That hill on a Sunday arvo…I will never forget those times. Some games there on a Sunday, they (the fans) really got us home. Bowing down was my thank you to them. I got emotional about half way around the lap. I told my nieces and nephews to hurry up. I could feel a couple of tears close to coming out, so I quickened up the pace a little bit. It was just really good to thank the Manly fans because they were so instrumental and so good in my career.

WC: You will forever be known as the ‘Prince of Brookvale’. How does that tag sit with you now that your wonderful career is over?

BS: ‘It is a nice tag to have. It brings a smile to my face and brings back some great memories. From my Jersey Flegg days to right through the NRL, I really felt at home there. I loved scoring tries there.’

WC:  What is the one try out of all those memorable tries you scored at Brookie that Brett Stewart rates the most?

BS:The one against the Wests Tigers in 2006. We were down by four points with about five to go. (Half) Matt Orford put a banana kick in. I tipped it out of Benji Marshall’s hands and scored to beat the Tigers. I get reminded about that try by the fans. I have looked at it a few times. That’s what you dreaming of doing as a kid. I was fortunate enough to be able to do it for 15 years.’

WC:  Your thoughts on how Tom Trbojevic is going now at full-back. As a Manly junior, you were his childhood hero.

BS: I hope they don’t put too much pressure on him early. He has a level head on his shoulders. You can see by the footy he has already played that he will represent NSW and Australia. There are not many boxes he doesn’t tick. He has got his brother, Jake, out there and there are a lot of similarities that I think motivate him that motivated my brother Glenn and me when we came through.’

WC: Finally, Brett, how is the restaurant business going in Melbourne.

BS: It is going well and I’m loving it. Manly fans, when you are in Melbourne, come to TokoSan Bar and Grill in Greville Street, Prahran. It has a karaoke bar and street style Japanese food. I am the managing director/owner and share it with a good mate. Come on in, I will look after you.’