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Former Great Britain hooker opens up on Manly Sea Eagles move

This season has seen a handful of players head from Super League down under to the NRL including the likes of Wigan Warriors’ Kai Pearce-Paul and Morgan Smithies, but now one former Wigan and Warrington player has taken up a coaching role with an NRL club.

That man is Jon Clarke, the former Great Britain hooker who played over 350 Super League games with the lion’s share coming at Warrington Wolves.

It was with Warrington where he won the Challenge Cup in 2010 having lifted the Super League title with Wigan in 1997, highlighting the longevity of his career.

Post-playing though Clarke moved into coaching becoming a the strength and conditioning coach at Widnes in 2014, whilst the Vikings were still a Super League outfit.

Since then his S&C coaching has taken him all over the world and across the two codes, but now he finds himself as the newest coach at NRL side Manly Warringah Sea Eagles.

The club conducted an interview with Clarke upon his arrival with the side in which he detailed the move, his relationship with head coach Anthony Seibold and a number of other matters.

Most recently Clarke had been coaching in union and at the highest of levels too having earned the call-up to be part of the British and Irish Lions tour of South Africa in 2021.

He had also previously worked at former club Warrington as Head of Performance and with the England team at the 2019 World Cup where they went all the way to the final.

Arriving in Manly he discussed how he knew head coach Anthony Seibold and the team’s CEO Tony Mestrov.

“Tony came across to Wigan in 1998 when I was 17 or 18. He was a great front row signing for Wigan. He played really well under Coach John Monie. We both later joined the London Broncos, so there was a connection there already when I came to Manly.

“It was at the London Broncos when I first met ‘Seibs’. We had a year there. He was a front-rower. Our paths separated and came back together when ‘Seibs’ worked for England Rugby where I had been for a few years. We tried our hands at a different sport in union, which we loved.

“‘Seibs’ then got the head coach role at Manly for 2023. We spoke a little bit about me coming over. This was always an ambition of mine to have a crack at the NRL. I never got the chance as a player, so this was an unbelievable opportunity.”

Clarke had already revealed what the highlights of his playing career were, detailing the standout moments from his long and illustrious career.

“You always go back to your club debuts. I played in a great Wigan team in 1997 with the likes of Andy Farrell and Jason Robinson. I got to play in a Challenge Cup final, won a Super League title (1999), and played two Tests for Great Britain. They are always the standouts.”

Manly of course are one of the fortunate four teams to kick off the NRL season in Las Vegas, with the Sea Eagles set to face off against South Sydney Rabbitohs.

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