Matt Ballin made plenty of sacrifices during his exceptional NRL career to be the very best player he could be.
The two-time premiership-winning Manly hooker has again made another tough sacrifice, that of leaving his family behind in Brisbane as he undertakes his first day today as a part of our Club's Education and Wellbeing team in addition to being our Under 20s Coach for 2019.
Matt played 217 first grade games for the Sea Eagles from 2007-15 before retiring in June 2017 after just three matches with Wests Tigers.
An all-time favourite with Manly fans for his prolific work-rate, Ballin said he was very excited to be back at Manly as part of Des Hasler's coaching staff.
"When I moved from the Northern Beaches to Brisbane, I realised how much I missed the Club and the people involved and just my attachment to the Manly Sea Eagles,'' Ballin said.
"I spoke to the club about being involved in 2018 but the family decided to give Brisbane a go for a year. Throughout the year, I came down from Brisbane to attend different club events like the Golden Eagles reunion, the 2008 premiership reunion, and did some work for the junior rugby league, and the Mona Vale Raiders JRL Club.
"I had a few chats with (Manly CEO) Lyall Gorman about a role in the juniors and welfare but I expressed my passion to coach.
"When Des got the job, I called him to say I would love to help out in any capacity. He offered me the Jersey Flegg coaching role as well as a role in the area of Player Welfare and Education.
"To be able to coach at Manly under Des, who I played under for such a long time, is pretty special. I was really honoured that Des believed in me.
"This is a fantastic opportunity for me. I'm really looking forward to working for the Manly Club, a club I love so much."
As for his family, Ballin said his wife Shannan had been a driving force in helping him make the decision to return to Manly.
"Shannan has established her own physiotherapy business in Brisbane called 'The Feel Good Physio','' Ballin said.
"She has done really well in the past year and her parents and brothers are close by. Our kids are settled in school there so they won't come back to Sydney straight away.
"We will give it at least a year and decide on how things are going with me in Sydney and how they are going in Brisbane.
"Hopefully my coaching career continues for a long time at Manly. I might go back to Brisbane one day but at this stage, we will see how we go.
"Shannan has been unbelievable through it all. She has always encouraged me to be a coach even if it means being away from her and the kids for a while.
"She knows my love for the Manly club."
Shannan Ballin said the family were extremely pleased for Matt.
"I'm so thrilled for Matt to be back involved at the club he is so passionate about... Manly was a huge part of our lives, we lived and breathed it for 11 years, '' Shannan said.
"Although we won't be living down there, the kids and I are looking forward to spending a lot more time on the beaches and being involved with the club again."
Prior to accepting the Manly coaching role, Ballin was teaching rugby league to Year 7 to 12 students at Wavell State High in Brisbane.
"They are an excellent school for rugby league,'' Ballin said.
"I was also teaching PE and a little bit of maths.
"Teaching maths, now that's tough."
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