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Oh Mann, what a hero

Will Botoulas, Melbourne Correspondent Sun, May 11, 2014 - 7:03 AM

Storm debutant Kurt Mann celebrates his match-winning try against Manly on Saturday night. Copyright: Brett Crockford.

An unlikely hero swoops in to save the daywhen all appears lost.

It seems a storyline more akin to a Marvelcomic book than the football field but that is precisely the plot line thatplayed out at AAMI Park on Saturday night.

Trailing by three points with just fourminutes left on the clock Cooper Cronk fired a low cross-field kick in whatseemed like a desperate trick play.

With the ball on its downward trajectory inswooped a No.18 wearing pink and purple to collect the football, cross the lineand save the day for Melbourne with a winning try in the most thrilling ofcircumstances.

For the Storm it was not a bird, nor aplane but in fact 21-year-old Kurt Mann, playing his debut NRL game in front of13, 273 on lookers.

A Melbourne-Manly contest is a baptism offire at its hottest and to come away with the match-winning try in the 22-19 win, it wasunderstandable the young Queenslander was beaming ear-to-ear after full timewhistle sounded.

“It was pretty unbelievable I don’t knowwhat to say, I was in the right place, right time I guess,” said Mann.

“I assumed he [Cronk] was going to kick andhe kicked it my way. I just chased like there was no tomorrow.

“He is probably the best kicker in the gameand I was just lucky to be there.”

Mann was a late inclusion into the line-upfor Mahe Fonua in the centres and more than held his own, recording 65 metres and23 tackles for the game.

Despite the impressive first up showing, theWinton Devils recruit admits he was forced to endure a nervy couple of days inthe build up to his debut.

“I slept very uneasy last night I can tellyou that,” said Mann.

“[The day of the game] I was at home anddidn’t say much, all my family was down from Queensland and I just sort of satand kept to myself all day.

“I was really nervous at the captain’s run,I didn’t want to touch the ball but [senior players] kept me calm and showed methe ropes.”

Centre was not the position Mann envisionedhe would make his debut, having played fullback in his first year at the clubin 2013, and being utilised at halfback and five-eighth at NSW Cup level.

In fact centre was a position that thebaby-faced Queenslander had not re-acquainted himself with up until a fortnightago.

“Not for a long time, back when I was 16was the last time I’ve played in the centres except for the last 2 weeks in theNSW Cup,” said Mann.

“I am happy to play anywhere, I just wantto play first grade footy so I’ll play anywhere if I have to.

“I thought I’d be waiting around untilState of Origin time to get a crack but got in early so it was good.”

If the kid can keep mixing it with the men ashe did on Saturday night, such opportunities and even greater heroics will besure to follow.