Jason King says Manly’s culture of success can survive the exit of those who have helped build it, including himself and South Sydney bound back-rower Glenn Stewart.
The former Manly skipper on Wednesday announced his retirement at the end of the season, calling time on a 14-year career that has spanned the long-defunct Northern Eagles and 235 NRL games.
An emotional King, 33, who has been tipped as a future chief executive of the Sea Eagles, conceded time and injuries had caught up with him and said he would concentrate on finishing a law degree to complement his business degree.
The 33-year-old has been a key part of a core group of players that have generated incredible success at the club, including grand final wins in 2008 and 2011 and has them readied for their 10th successive finals series. But with Glenn Stewart to join South Sydney next season, and Anthony Watmough almost certain to exit Brookvale the year after and Steve Matai and Brett Stewart linked to early exits from their current contracts, Manly could struggle to replicate that success.
King is adamant they can.
“We are really well placed for the future,” King said, who made the announcement with Manly’s entire playing group, wife Jackie and son William present.
“I have a lot of confidence in what the club is doing, there are some great young players coming through. Guys like (forward) Jake Trbojevic and (winger) Clinton Gutherson who are both local juniors
“They have been learning a lot the last couple of years and I’m excited to see how they will go.
“I have full confidence in the club moving forward and have no doubt they will be able to continue the success we have had over the last decade or so.
“There are structures in place and good coaching staff here and they are ready to bring through that next phase of player
“I have confidence in them to be able to do that.”
A Manly junior himself, King said he was happy to have lived his dream of playing for the Sea Eagles.
He was a part of the 2008 grand final side but missed out on the 2011 decider through injury. He also missed last year’s grand final loss to the Roosters through injury.
Coach Geoff Toovey paid tribute to former NSW prop King’s time at Brookvale.
“He was here for some dark times after the Northern Eagles days, there have been some tough times,” Toovey said.
“But he has played a great role in building the culture of this club.”