Mason lightens mood at ManlyOn 01/31/2019 by admin
Manly coach Geoff Toovey says veteran recruit Willie Mason is reinvigorating the Sea Eagles after their turbulent NRL season.
Mason has vowed to bring old-fashioned mongrel to an Eagles pack which has lost stalwarts Anthony Watmough and Glenn Stewart, whose end-of-season departure amid constant talk of division in the ranks undermined Manly’s 2014 campaign.
But Toovey says Mason has already made a big contribution in a much different way.
Entering his 15th season after previous stints with Canterbury, the Sydney Roosters, North Queensland and Newcastle, Big Willie has lifted spirits in his inimitable way at pre-season training.
In the steamy November heat, Toovey said it was great to have one of the game’s most colourful characters to lighten the mood as he put his charges through their paces.
“He does like to hold court quite often,” said Toovey.
“He’s a big personality and he’s got a stature to match it as well.
“It’s good to see them having a bit of a laugh as well as working out.
“Fresh faces are a bit of a challenge for a few of the old heads that are established in the team.
“So new faces always bring that extra bit of character to the team and to the training sessions and some of them have got bigger characters than others.
“The players enjoy Willie’s company and I think he’ll be an integral part of the team.”
Veteran skipper Jamie Lyon said Mason needed no introduction but that didn’t stop the 34-year-old from quickly making himself known to his new teammates.
“He’s loud, that’s for sure,” Lyon said.
“He’s good to have around the place and there’s certainly a few laughs out there.”
Mason’s signing is compensation of sorts for losing the vast experience of Manly stalwarts and Lyon said it was time to draw a line under the 2014 season turmoil and enter a fresh new era.
“There seems to be a lot of talk about last (season), a couple of guys moving on who have done a lot of good work at the club for a lot of years,” he said.
“It’s sad to see some guys go but, in saying that, we’ve got a few young blokes coming through and some good buys as well.
“So I’m pretty excited about the season.”