Adding a little extra incentive to Sunday’s clash between two teams currently in-form and looking to consolidate and improve their positions inside the top eight, will be a trophy honouring the memory of a man to have left a legacy at both Sydney clubs.
An Eels junior who joined he Sharks in 2009, Johnny Mannah tragically passed away in January of 2013 after losing his battle with Hodgkin's lymphoma, aged just 23, with the two teams playing for a Cup bearing his name ever since.
Contested in first Sharks game against the Eels each season, the Johnny Mannah Cup will be up for grabs once again when the teams meet at Kogarah Jubilee Stadium on Sunday.
An extremely capable front rower and a well-liked member of the Sharks squad, Mannah would play 24 NRL games for the Cronulla club.
He was a former teammate of Sharks Coach John Morris, also playing alongside skipper Wade Graham and the currently sidelined Chad Townsend.
In previewing the Mannah Cup match last year Morris in his first year in charge of the Cronulla side, fondly recalled being a part of one of Johnny most memorable on-field moments.
“I think Johnny only scored a couple of tries in the NRL and I remember throwing the last pass for one of them,” Morris said.
Popular amongst the playing group and a no-nonsense big man in the Sharks pack, Mannah left the club after suffering his first bout with cancer, then fought back and returned to the Eels in what was an inspiration to all those who knew him.
“It means a lot to us to be playing for the Johnny Mannah Cup and I’m sure it’s a special occasion and an important game for the Parramatta club as well,” Morris added.
The two clubs have contested the Johnny Mannah Cup on seven occasions, with the Eels in possession of the silverware having won the most recently encounter, recording a 24-12 victory in a round 12 match last year.
Prior that game however the trophy had enjoyed something of a permanent home at the Sharks in recent years, with Cronulla winning the Mannah Cup four years in succession after the Eels claimed the trophy in both 2013 and 2014.
The Sharks head into the Johnny Mannah Cup match with plenty of confidence after coming from behind to beat the Broncos at their last start and while Eels coach Bard Arthur wasn’t thrilled with his team’s performance in round 12 they still managed an 18-16 victory over the Bulldogs.
The Sharks v Eels match for the Johnny Mannah Cup is scheduled to kick off at 4.00pm on Sunday at Kogarah Jubilee.
Johnny Mannah Cup results
2019 – Round 4 – Eels 24 – Sharks 12
2018 – Round 3 – Sharks 14 – Eels 4
2017 – Round 4 – Sharks 20 – Eels 6
2016 – Round 17 – Sharks 34 – Eels 24
2015 – Round 25 – Sharks 35 – Eels 28
2014 – Round 9 – Eels 42 – Sharks 24
2013 – Round 5 – Eels 13 – Sharks 6