Robinson hails evergreen Menzies
As Steve Menzies edges ever closer to becoming Stobart Super League’s all-time golden oldie, his coach has opened up the possibility of him playing until close to his 40th birthday.
The evergreen second row forward, who turned 38 in December, is due to take over from fellow Australian Brad Davis as Super League’s oldest player when Catalan Dragons meet Wigan Warriors in Montpellier on Saturday 9 June.
Davis, now in his sixth season as skills and defence coach at Bath after switching codes to rugby union, was 38 years, six months and three days old when he played his final game of Super League for Castleford Tigers in September 2006.
The former Nottingham Outlaws, Huddersfield Giants, York City Knights and Wakefield Trinity Wildcats half-back inherited the record from former Leeds Rhinos winger Paul Sterling, who was 36 years and 44 days old when he played against London Broncos in the last match of the 2000 season.
While Davis played his entire professional career in England, Menzies did not arrive in Super League until 2009, when he ended a 17-year association with his beloved Manly Sea Eagles to sign for Bradford Bulls, but he has not been slow to make an impact.
He was arguably the Bulls’ best player in two seasons at Odsal before moving on to Perpignan, where he has managed to maintain his particularly high standards to such an effect that coach Trent Robinson would warmly welcome him going around again.
“Of course,” said Robinson. “It’s not only way that he plays, it’s what he brings to our club.
“He’s had a big impact on our club. He’s a good character to have around, he makes you feel confident with the way he goes about things.
“He’s great to talk to and, when things need to get done, he’s really precise. He’s added huge value to us.”
Menzies has endured a difficult season so far because of injury but has maintained his exceptional tryscoring rate with four touchdowns in his last three Super League matches.
Originally signed on a one-year contract, Menzies penned a 12-month extension with the Dragons last July and will decide shortly whether to hang up his boots or take in one last season, with no pressure either way from his coach.
“I’m going to leave it to Steve,” Robinson said. “He wants a run of games so he can see where he’s at.
“It’s up to him. He’s still working his way back. He played exceptionally well in the first three games but then had a bit of an extended break.
“He had a six-week lay-off with a really bad ‘cork’ (dead leg) which kept bleeding and it took a while to get sorted. But he’s too great a player not to get back on the horse.”
It all started way back in 1993 for the man nicknamed ‘Beaver’ when he made his debut for Manly and he ended his stint in Australia in fairytale fashion by helping the Sea Eagles to a Grand Final record 40-0 rout of defending premiers Melbourne Storm in 2008.
That day Menzies equalled Terry Lamb’s record of 349 first-grade games and scored the game’s final try to take his tally to 180, putting him second only to winger Ken Irvine in the all-time list but first among try-scoring forwards.
Menzies, who won the first of his 15 caps for the Kangaroos in 1994, seems destined to return eventually to Manly but, according to Robinson, would make a mark on any club.
“He’s still got a house in Manly,” he said. “It’s part of his fibre.
“He’d be invaluable to any club. I don’t see him as a coach - he’s the nicest man in the world - but I see him adding value to a coaching system.”