THE NORTHERN beaches came to the bush yesterday as the Manly Sea Eagles swooped on Bingara, Warialda and Wee Waa for this year’s NRL One Community Carnival.
Jamie Lyon was a big hit in his home town of Wee Waa, along with Liam Foran and David Gower, while David “Wolfman” Williams made plenty of friends at Bingara and Warialda.
Kiwi international Steve Matai and young forward Michael Chee Kam were also along for the trip to the Gwydir Valley where they visited Bingara Central School and held a coaching clinic with kids in Warialda.
“Jamie Lyon has been giving us a tour around,” Matai said.
“We came up to Tamworth and then drove a couple of hours.
“I’ve never been here before and it’s a good experience for me, and for Chee as well.
“It’s a lot different to the hustle and bustle of the city.
“It’s nice to come to somewhere that’s so relaxed.”
For another young Kiwi, Chee Kam, who has just graduated from the Under 20s competition, it was also an eye-opener.
“It’s the first time for me,” he said.
“It’s good to see though.
“It’s very different.”
Williams is also a city boy but has toured rural and remote areas before.
“We went to Brewarrina and Bourke last year for the Ron Gibbs carnival,” he said.
“I like coming to the country.
Not only were the players taking the “tackle bullying” message to the kids and promoting healthy living, but they were also encouraging kids to sign up for their local junior league clubs.
Warialda held a sign-on in conjunction with the visit while Bingara is holding its rego day on Saturday from noon at the town pool.
“If it means helping clubs stay alive so they can produce the next Jamie Lyon, any help will benefit the game,” Williams said.
“We do what we can.”
Williams has been at the club through its recent successes, including two premierships in 2008 and 2011.
He reckons the Sea Eagles can do it again in 2013.
“We’ve always had strong personnel at the club,” the winger said.
“There’s no reason why we can’t do it again.
“Hopefully we’ll go even better than last year.”
At 28, Matai is also something of a veteran at Manly and can’t wait to start the premiership campaign.
“We’ve got a trial game on Friday against Cronulla,” he said.
“It’s good to finally see some action.
“We’ve been training since November so everyone just wants to get onto the field.”
He also backs the side to take the title, but his season could also extend into November if he makes the New Zealand team for the World Cup.
“Those things will look after themselves,” Matai said.
“If I just play good football for Manly those things will come.
“I played in the World Cup last time when we won.
“It was good.
“Hopefully we can go well again.”
Chee Kam was a star of the Canberra U20s team.
He is new at Manly and says playing first grade is his “dream”.
“There’s a good culture there,” Chee Kam said.
“There’s a lot of old heads, which is good for young players like me to learn off.
“There’s a lot of players who have played at the top and played Origin and things and that helps a lot.
“Every club is different and plays to different game plans.”
The young backrower has already been nicknamed “Cheesey” by Williams and the Bingara kids delighted in repeating the name.
All of the Manly players will be in Moree today for some activities at the PCYC from 2-3pm and will also run a coaching clinic at Boughton Oval from 4-5pm.