It might be the end of an era for Brent Kite as he prepares to play his 221st and final game for Manly, but he remains adamant this Sunday’s grand final won’t be the last hoorah for a Sea Eagles outfit that has been the dominant force of the NRL for the past seven seasons.
One of three veteran forwards on their way out at the end of the year alongside George Rose and Joe Galuvao, Kite will be hoping to farewell the club with one more premiership this week following previous success in 2008 and 2011.
Their departures have prompted talk that the dynasty originally built by Des Hasler and taken over by Geoff Toovey could be coming to an end, but Kite is predicting many more years of success on the northern beaches despite the loss of more experienced players.
“The last few years we’ve lost one or two people but managed to keep a core group there that has been able to stick together for a long period which I’m really pleased and proud of,” Kite told NRL.com. “And although that’s coming to an end, I think they can keep the success going. There are plenty of old heads still there and some exciting new guys coming through.
“It’s the end of an era for me but I hope they can keep it together and keep the success going.”
Kite said that if the Sea Eagles were going to lose their mojo, it would have happened in the wake of Hasler’s sudden departure in the wake of their 2011 grand final success. While 2012 proved a tough one for Manly, the veteran prop says the way the club has bounced back this season is proof they still have a lot more to offer.
“It’s funny how things work out,” he said. “Last year was a shocker for us and coming off the win in 2011 we had everything in place to do well again, but this competition is so tight that different teams keep popping up and having a crack each year.
“Des leaving last year was a big deal for us. It derailed us a little bit there but Geoff has been good enough to come in and steady the ship. It’s great to see the character of this team. It tells you a lot about the playing group that even after such a key figure left in those dramatic circumstances we’ve been able to lift for each other and get things going again.”
Kite is one of eight remaining players from the club’s famous 2008 grand final win over Melbourne and he knows what it takes to win a premiership ring. It’s why, even five weeks ago when the Sea Eagles had yet to beat a fellow top-four side in 2013, he was predicting another grand final appearance.
Now, with wins over Melbourne (Round 25) and South Sydney behind them, he is satisfied that the team has lived up to their potential no matter what the result against the Roosters on Sunday.
“I feel good about it all,” he said of what will be his final game for the club he joined back in 2005. “I think had I gone out in the past two weeks it would have been a shame because I just felt we had another grand final in us. It’s great that we’ve given ourselves a chance.
“It’s not going to be easy against the Roosters who have gone well all year but the fact we’ve given ourselves a chance and our destiny is in our own hands, it’s good.
“Win, lose or draw now I can’t complain. I couldn’t ask for anything more… although I’ll definitely accept another ring.”
Kite said it was difficult to predict how a third title would compare to his previous two but insisted he wasn’t letting himself get carried away with such lofty thought.
“It’s a hard thing to say – 2008 was special being the first and to win one in my last year here would be right up there but there is a lot to happen this week before I can compare,” he said.
“We don’t have this premiership yet so you sort of don’t let yourself think about it too much. There is a big game to be played first.”