Noel Cleal, Des Hasler’s right-hand man for the majority of his coaching career, has retired from his post as Manly recruitment guru.
Cleal, 64, worked with Hasler during the coach’s first stint at the Sea Eagles, before following him to the Bulldogs and back to Manly.
He combined with Hasler to steer the Sea Eagles to the 2008 and 2011 NRL titles.
LIVE UPDATES: Australian Open 2023 day two highlights
READ MORE: Uncomfortable question hangs over Kyrgios call
READ MORE: Display of Russia flag at Australian Open condemned by Ukraine
His retirement comes three months after Hasler was sacked as Manly coach, which led to Anthony Seibold stepping into the hot seat.
A powerhouse centre and second-rower affectionately known as “Crusher”, Cleal played 129 games for the Sea Eagles between 1983 and 1989, and was a member of the 1987 premiership-winning team under coach Bob Fulton.
Sea Eagles chief executive Tony Mestrov had kind words for Cleal following his retirement decision.
“I know how proud and honoured Noel is to have been able to spend 20 of those seasons at Manly, having made the finals campaign on 17 occasions as a player and manager,” Mestrov said.
“The ones that stand out for him are the 1987 premiership as a player, captaining the Sea Eagles in 1986 and working closely with Des Hasler to win the 2008 and 2011 NRL premierships.
“From a personal view, a highlight for Noel was being able to play with his brother Les on the Sydney Cricket Ground (for Eastern Suburbs) in 1982.
“As for his record in representative football, he was honoured to play for City, Country, New South Wales and Australia.
“His career also saw him play bush footy for five years, winning three premierships, and a stint in England as a player and then as a coach, winning a premiership in 1992 with Hull.”
Cleal is now looking forward to settling on the Mid North Coast of NSW with his wife Michelle.
“Having spent endless hours watching NRL, lower grades, junior reps, schoolboy carnivals and bush footy, Noel is also going to spend time with his grandchildren — Cooper, Nash and Sonny — watching their sporting achievements,” Mestrov added.
“The Sea Eagles sincerely thank Noel for all he has done for our club and congratulate him on a wonderful career.
“We wish him good luck in the future.”
For a daily dose of the best of the breaking news and exclusive content from Wide World of Sports, subscribe to our newsletter by clicking here!
The Mole: Where the best junior players from 2012 NYC competition are now