Former Sea Eagles premiership winning forward Daniel Gartner laughs when asked if some of his younger ‘patients’ know of his achievements in the maroon and white jersey.
“Some of them do. Every now and then the coaching staff will tell the boys about me,’’ said Gartner, the physiotherapist for the Sea Eagles’ Harold Matthews and SG Ball teams.
For those too young – like many of the U16 and U18 players he treats – Gartner was a hard-working back-rower who formed a lethal partnership with Nik Kosef and Steve Menzies in the 1990s.
Gartner scored 35 tries in 120 games for Manly, winning a premiership against St George in 1996. He also played in the losing grand finals in 1995 and 1997.
Following a stint with the Northern Eagles in 2000, Gartner was a member of the Bradford Bulls teams that won the English Challenge Cup and the Super League grand final in 2003.
Today, Gartner has opened up Shore Physiotherapy with clinics in St Leonards and North Manly after graduating with honours from Sydney University in 2007.
Gartner says he is enjoying working with the Junior Sea Eagles program.
“I have always loved the Manly Club. If I can pass on some of my knowledge to these younger players about the game and also the rehab side of things, then that’s a good thing,’’ Gartner said.
“This is a good learning experience for me. I got interested in physiotherapy during my playing days. I had to think about what I wanted to do after footy, and doing physio was the first thing that came to mind.”
Gartner, the son of former Canterbury winger Clive Gartner, played for the Narrabeen Sharks in the Manly Junior Rugby League before working his way through the grades. His first grade debut came in 1992 at the age of 19 against Cronulla.
His idol as a youngster was Phil Blake.
“Every kid did the Phil Blake chip and chase in their backyard back then,’’ Gartner said, with a smile.
“My other favourite Manly players were my cousin, Russell Gartner, Michael O’Çonnor, and Ian Roberts. I also loved (Parramatta’s) Brett Kenny.”
As for that combination with Kosef and Menzies, Gartner was pretty humbled.
“People often talked about it and how good it was, but to me, the front row combination of David Gillespie and Mark Carroll was pretty good too,’’ he said.
“Then you look at the backline…..we had blokes like Terry Hill, Geoff Toovey, Cliff Lyons. It was a well-balanced side and it’s why we spent a few years at the top.”
Kristie Fulton, Junior Sea Eagles Manager, says Gartner is kept busy with his role at Manly.
“Garts not only runs a weekly junior reps physio clinic, he also attends our trials and competition games” she said.
“It’s special for our young players to have a former Manly player of the calibre of Dan Gartner involved in our elite pathways program. It also shows the boys that there is life after football and a very successful one at that.”