Former Manly centre Ben Farrar remains forever 'grateful' for the lessons he learnt during his playing career at the Sea Eagles.
Farrar played 35 first grade games for the Sea Eagles between 2009-10 and 2012-13.
We caught up with Ben for our 'Where Are They Now' series.
Q&A: Ben Farrar
You made your NRL debut for the Cowboys in 2007 against Manly. What do you recall of the game?
Graham Murray was my first NRL coach and he called me into his office to tell me the news. It was an extremely humbling moment. The game went by in a flash. Manly were Grand Finalists that year so they were quite formidable. I marked Jamie Lyon and was nervous. I think I made a tackle in the first set on him (he may have tripped over) and after that, I was good to go. To score a try on debut was special.
You joined the Sea Eagles in late May 2009 after 28 games for the Cowboys. What attracted you to Manly?
Manly were very successful with some superstar players. I thought Coach Des Hasler could improve me as a player. Another big reason was my mother fell quite sick at the time and was undergoing treatment. I wanted to be closer to family in Newcastle, so it worked out well.
What do you recall of your debut for Manly against Penrith?
It was the Jane McGrath Breast Cancer round, so it was a pink theme. My good friend, and housemate then, David ‘Wolfman’ Williams, turned his beard pink for the game. It was freezing and I scored a try. The way I was welcomed by the boys after arriving at Manly three days earlier was something I remember fondly.
How did you adjust to life on the Northern Beaches when you first moved down from Townsville?
I still remember the great camaraderie of the teams at Manly around those times. I really believe that’s why they had so much success around that era. They all bled for each other. You had to prove yourself but once you did, they would do anything for each other. Our strength was that we all got along and played for each other.
You scored six tries in 13 games for Manly in your first season including a double against Newcastle at Gosford. You must have been happy with the way things turned out?
I was happy. I became a better player at Manly and a lot of that goes to the coaching staff headed by Des Hasler and Donny Singe. The calibre of the players meant you had to rise to that level or you got found out. The game against the Knights was special as I'm from Newcastle. I played against many mates that night, so it was good to get one up on them.
What did you learn from the likes of Brett Stewart, Steve Matai, Jamie Lyon, David Williams and Matt Orford to name a few?
Brett taught me resilience. Steve was one of the hardest players I’d ever played with but he would do anything for you. Jamie was naturally gifted at absolutely everything. An amazing player. Matt was extremely tough for his size and very smart. He would play busted most weeks. David, for all the fanfare and laughs he got, the ‘Wolfman’ was one of the bravest players I’d ever played with. He was tough and a great team man
How was it playing behind a quality forward pack headed by the likes of Brent Kite, Anthony Watmough, Josh Perry, Matt Ballin, and Glenn Stewart to name a few?
It was a privilege really. They had so many leaders within that pack. They had everything, from toughness, leadership and skill.
You scored 15 tries in 35 games for Manly. Are there any tries or games that stand out?
The finals were really special games. My debut was also one I won’t forget. Any game at Brookie was memorable. There is something about the place which is so special. I got shivers when I walked on to the field for Golden Eagles Day last year.
You had two years with Catalans in France and three years at London. How was that experience?
France was an amazing experience. I was coached by Trent Robinson and learnt plenty off him. The language was a challenge but I did enjoy it. I got to play with my best mate growing up in Scott Dureau and had one year with Steve ‘Beaver’ Menzies at Catalans which was crazy as I grew up idolising him.
You came back for Golden Eagles Day last year. How important is that for you to take part in this great tradition now?
Manly has a special place in my heart. I love the place and still do. I’d happily move back down. Although injury limited my playing time at times, I met some amazing people. The culture of the club is special. Whenever I see familiar faces at games now that I either played with or was coached by, I'm grateful for any part they played in my career.
How do you feel when you reflect on your career?
A: Very privilege. I was a mid 80kg back at the time. I look at the game now and shake my head at the athletes that play at the top level. The game has changed so much. I was never anything special but prided myself on filling whatever role was asked of me and working my backside off.
What are you doing these days?
I have a large family and a niece and nephew which keeps me on my toes. Life now is busy, but I love it. When I moved back to Newcastle from London and retired in 2015, I opened an F45 franchise with my brother and cousin. It’s called F45 Gateshead and is something we all love and has become a huge part of our lives. We’ve been open since February 2016. I also work with the Newcastle Knights lower grade teams. I've been working as an Assistant Coach and Strength and Conditioning Coach since I retired. I transitioned into the roles as a bit of an experiment in 2016. I love it and hope to continue on that coaching pathway.