Hard work pays off for Ben Condon

Wayne Cousins

There is little doubt Ben Condon will feel a great sense of gratitude when he makes his club debut for the Manly Warringah Sea Eagles in Canberra on Sunday afternoon.

Condon is into his first season of a three-year-deal with Manly, with the 22-year-old patiently biding his time with some strong form lately for the Blacktown Workers Sea Eagles in the NSW Cup.

Condon made his NRL debut for the Cowboys as a promising 19-year-old second-rower in 2020, but after spending last year with the Mackay Cutters in the Qld Cup, the boy from Roma knew it was time to get out of his ‘comfort zone’ if he was to further his 12 game first grade career.

A familiar face in Sea Eagles forward Ethan Bullemor made the transition from Townsville to Manly a little easier during the pre-season, with the pair having played some junior club footy together in Rockhampton.

Condon has since settled in well on the Northern Beaches and in between playing home games at 4 Pines Park and travelling to Blacktown, has been quietly applying his trade in the NSW Cup.

However, injuries this week to props Josh Aloiai, Aaron Woods, and back-rower Kelma Tuilga has seen Coach Anthony Seibold reward Condon for his perseverance with selection in Manly’s starting side for Sunday’s Indigenous Round clash against Canberra at GIO Stadium.

Ironically, Condon’s last game in the NRL was against Manly in round 25, 2021, where he scored a try for the Cowboys in the 46-18 loss in Townsville. The match is well remembered for Reuben Garrick’s incredible run from his in-goal area on the last play of the game that led to Tom Trbojevic’s hat-trick

In his nine games for Blacktown Workers this season, of which eight have been at prop, Condon has made over 100 run metres on four occasions, with two being over 120 metres. He has also run for over 100m in each of his last three games.

Condon’s last start effort against Newtown at 4 Pines Park saw him run 111 metres, of which 95 were from hit ups.

He also crossed for a try off a barnstorming run off a great inside ball from skillful hooker Gordon Chan Kum Tong that led to Blacktown drawing level with the Jets in a 22-all draw.

Furthermore, Condon has also stiffened up Blacktown’s defence with a tackle efficiency rate of 89 per cent.

Seibold, himself a Rockhampton man, said Condon fully deserves his selection that will see him become the 645th player to play first grade for Manly.

“Ben has had to be patient over the first 10 games of the season. His form in recent week for Blacktown has been strong, so he deserves the opportunity,’’ Seibold said.

“There’s no fuss to Ben. He is a country guy. He just goes about his business in a really reserved manner.

“Ben is still only a young guy who is at the very beginning of his NRL career. “It’s not how you get your opportunity, it’s what you do once you get there.

“It’s his time in the jersey now. It’s his to keep through his performances.”