What happened to Warrington’s star number nine?

When you think back on the best Warrington team Super League has ever seen, a number of star names spring to mind. Lee Briers was at the heart of the Wire surge for success, Adrian Morley was superb down the middle whilst backs like Matt King and Chris Bridge also made the Wolves special. But at the very core of their success stood Michael Monaghan.

Monaghan came through at Canberra Raiders at the age of just 19 alongside younger brother Joel. But soon enough, the pair would head down different paths. Joel remained with the Green Machine until 2004 before making the switch to Sydney whilst Michael left the capital for Manly in 2003.

He signed for the Sea Eagles as a bright up and coming halfback but quickly made the shift to hooker. From there he began to develop into an outstanding player capable of creating and organising from acting half thanks to his experience as a seven.

He continued to flourish and grow helping the Sea Eagles to the 2007 Grand Final where heartbreak would ensue for the number nine in his final game with the club as Melbourne stormed through the Sea Eagles to glory.

Following that defeat, he made the jump to Super League with Warrington Wolves. The Wire were again promising big things. The year before Adrian Morley had arrived and now with Michael Monaghan in their side they were seen as a club on the up.

However, things never got going for the Wolves in his first couple of years at the Halliwell Jones. Whilst his former club won the NRL in 2008, Monaghan and the Wire were struggling to make the play-offs slipping to 10th in the table in 2009.

However, a ray of hope emerged that season one that promised to use Monaghan’s quality paired with the class of others to finally take Warrington to the next level. Tony Smith arrived mid-way through the 2009 season and led the Wire to Challenge Cup glory and Monaghan proved how essential he would be to their rise by picking up the Lance Todd trophy as Man of the Match.

A year later he and Warrington continued their assent to success with a 3rd place finish and another Challenge Cup Final success. Then came 2011.

A huge year for both Monaghan and Warrington. For Monaghan, it represented the first time in eight years that he and his brother would line-up alongside each other as Joel arrived in Warrington. Speaking of the Wolves, 2011 represented their best chance at winning the Super League title. They stormed to top spot scoring over 1000 points many of which were down to Joel’s potency on the wing as well as Michael’s cunning in the centre of the park. However, a first Grand Final appearance was cruelly snatched away from the Wolves by Leeds. A year later Leeds would inflict more Super League hurt on the brothers in the Grand Final avenging Warrington’s success against them at Wembley as Monaghan became a three-time winner of the Challenge Cup.

As their careers slowly came towards their end, the Monaghan boys played in one more Grand Final together. Again, the Wolves arrived as favourites against Wigan and even led 16-2 in the 2013 decider. However, an injury to Joel helped derail the Wolves as Wigan secured the double.

2014 proved to be Monaghan’s last season but there would be no fairytale ending as the Wolves missed out on both the Grand Final and the Challenge Cup Final for only the second time since 2009.

In 2015, he joined the ambitious Catalans Dragons as assistant coach and even had a temporary stint in charge of the French outfit in 2017.

In 2018, he left for the NRL and went back to the club at which he made his name: Manly. There, he became the pathways and specialist coach promising to enhance the future of the club and take them back to NRL glory the likes of which they’ve not experienced in 10 years.

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