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'He never stopped surprising me how tough he was': Tim Mannah pays tribute to his brother Jon

Date

Daniel Lane and Michael Chammas

Tim and John Mannah in 2008.

Tim and John Mannah in 2008. Photo: Jacky Ghossein

Parramatta NRL player Jon Mannah has died after a long battle with cancer.

Mannah, who lost his 3½-year battle with cancer overnight, was highly regarded by those at Cronulla and had more impact on those at the club than his 24 games between 2009 to 2011 would suggest.

The club and a lot of the players are better off for having known such a gentleman.  

Cronulla coach Shane Flanagan

Mannah's blossoming career came to an abrupt halt in 2009 when he was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma.

Jon Mannah ... lost his cancer fight, aged 23.

Jon Mannah ... lost his cancer fight, aged 23. Photo: Adam Hollingworth

After fighting his way back to full fitness, the Guildford junior played a further 12 games for Cronulla in 2011 before returning to his junior club Parramatta to play alongside his older brother Tim.

Unfortunately for Mannah, he had a relapse in his battle with cancer in March last year while fighting his way back into the NRL through Eels feeder club Wentworthville.

Tim Mannah said his family were on Friday celebrating what he described as a great life that would continue to inspire people.

Jon Mannah warming up for his return game for Cronulla against Balmain Ryde. Click for more photos

RIP Jon Mannah

The rugby league world mourns the passing of Jon Mannah. Photo: Anthony Johnson

‘‘Everyone who knows him is aware of how strong Johnny was,’’ said his brother.

‘‘Even me, he never stopped surprising me with how tough he was. Obviously on the footy side of things you had to be tough to do what he did, and to see how hard he trained at Parramatta for three months with really bad cancer ... he pretty much had a hole in his intestines ...  and to see how well he trained spun me out.

‘‘Over the last two weeks he was in a ridiculous amount of pain and he never showed it, he’d never tell people. The medical staff were freaking out because they said on paper he should be in a lot worse state than he is but he was coping so well. I think that was more of a case of him not showing much and it was another testament of how strong he was.’’

‘‘There aren’t many 23-year-old people who achieved what he did in life. He played in the front row for first grade at 19 and to get cancer, to get through it and to play NRL again was a phenomenal thing. To do what he did and touch so many people was an exciting story for him.

‘‘His faith in God that drove him, drove all of us. He was put to the test and I think our faith has been the best part of our lives over the past few years. Coming to the hospital this morning to say goodbye to him and seeing the smile on his face  . . . I think of how peaceful it was ... he knew this wasn’t the end, he was going home to heaven.’’

Cronulla coach Shane Flanagan also paid tribute to Jon Mannah by declaring the club a better place for having called him one of their own. 

A devastated Flanagan said the club was in mourning following the loss of the former prop, but highlighted his bravery throughout the tough ordeal he confronted.

“Everyone here at the Sharks are better for knowing Jonny Mannah,” Flanagan said.

“The club and a lot of the players are better off for having known such a gentleman. We didn’t really know about what he was going through because he was just so tough and he never really showed any signs of ‘poor me’. He was always respectful.

“After his chemo and treatment I remember this one time we actually went to the Children’s Hospital and he was handing out gifts when he was going through his own battle. He never wanted people to feel sorry for him. He was such a tough person but such a gentleman.

Sharks chairman Damian Irvine took to twitter to announce: "Condolences will be held tonight, tomorrow and sunday from 6:30-9:30pm at Faith Baptist Regents park.support Johnny & his faith."

In July last year, a resilient Mannah told Fairfax Media that he was optimistic about his chances of overcoming the disease.

''I wouldn't say I've given up, no - definitely not,'' Mannah said.

''I'm uncertain about it and I don't know if it will happen again. But I won't be giving up on it any time soon.

''I know I'm going to get through this,'' he said.

Mannah never complained and was always grateful for the support of his family and friends.

''It has been [an ordeal], but I've been all right with it mentally,'' he said in July.

''That doesn't say anything about me, but the people around me. I'll come out the other end. It's just a matter of putting up with the procedures and whatnot.''

The Parramatta club issued a statement via Twitter.

"The Parramatta Eels send their heartfelt condolences to the Mannah family after the passing of 23 year old Jon overnight. Such a sad loss."

Mannah's death prompted an outpouring of support from the rugby league community on Twitter.

"Thinking of u Timmy and the whole Mannah family Johnny was an absolute gentleman it was a pleasure to know him. Best wishes," NSW Origin and Cronulla captain Paul Gallen tweeted.

NSW Origin and Wests Tigers hooker Robbie Farah, who lost his mother to cancer last year, also paid his respects to the Mannah family.

‘‘So sad to hear about the tragic passing of Jon Mannah. Prayers and thoughts are with the whole Mannah family. Life can be so cruel,’’ Farah tweeted

Tweets:

Leave your tributes in the comments section

with AAP

45 comments so far

  • Sad news day today. Condolences to the Mannah family.
    I hope your grief is short and the fond memories are eternal.
    RIP John.

    Commenter
    Sean
    Location
    Sydney
    Date and time
    January 18, 2013, 9:07AM
    • You can have some luck in footy, but being a gentleman is entirely up to you. Vale Jon Mannah - a Gentleman.

      Commenter
      A Fan
      Location
      Cronulla
      Date and time
      January 18, 2013, 1:54PM
  • Sad he was a fighter. NRLhis family & friends have lost a good bloke. But Folau Wow 'God has a plan' we all die, there is no god why take you young when he can take you OLD. 26000 kids will starve today and he expects god to listen to his prayers????

    Commenter
    thebenda
    Location
    Sydney
    Date and time
    January 18, 2013, 9:10AM
    • Well said, why is it appropriate for Folau to bring god's will into this?....wonder if Folau prayed to god to get him out of that GWS contract. Seems ok to get god involved when it suits a purpose but it's time we left god out as a mark of respect for all...Condolences to the Mannah family - 23 is too young to die.

      Commenter
      Soot
      Location
      sydney
      Date and time
      January 18, 2013, 9:50AM
    • Mannah family are religious and Folau is a friend so I very much doubt that they are offended by his words even if you are.

      Commenter
      Ryanno
      Date and time
      January 18, 2013, 10:16AM
    • Really not the place to bring out a religious argument.. shame on you.

      Commenter
      Lila
      Location
      Sydney
      Date and time
      January 18, 2013, 1:19PM
    • I thought Australia was a christian country - not any more by the looks.
      no faith = no morals

      Commenter
      Chooks
      Date and time
      January 18, 2013, 1:57PM
    • sorry to see a person's faith get questioned when the whole article is about John's faith and his whole approach to life AND death. What an inspiration!

      @soot - maybe you should have signed off as sook. And as for thebenda - the Mannah family have chosen their faith like so many other people of faith. To bring in an argumentative comment is just so demeaning for its author. Deal with your issues.

      to the Mannah family on behalf of all the dumb and downright insensitive comments, we are very sorry. Celebrate your son's and brother's life knowing that he did make a difference and this world is a better place for his life. God bless you!

      Commenter
      James
      Location
      Kootingal
      Date and time
      January 18, 2013, 1:58PM
    • Jon believes in God and I doubt he was scared of his passing. For if his faith is true, he's in a better place.

      I know I have been strengthened by Jons faith and toughness and hope I could show the same resilient life that he did. It's just a sad that it takes someones passing for us to realise our own shortcomings and our own pedantic insecurities in life. Jon went out a winner and I believe has won the ultimate gift.

      Commenter
      Snoochies
      Location
      Brissy
      Date and time
      January 18, 2013, 3:12PM
    • The Mannah family and Israel Folau are all deeply religious people. I don't believe that statement myself, but I respect other peoples rights to have those beliefs. I'm sure Israel wouldn't say that to someone that wasn't a devout Christian.

      Commenter
      Anthony
      Location
      Logan
      Date and time
      January 18, 2013, 3:17PM

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