Promising NRL player Mannah dies of cancer

MICHAEL CHAMMAS
Last updated 12:12 18/01/2013
Jon Mannah
Fairfax Australia
TOO SOON: Jon Mannah has passed away from cancer aged 23.

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

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

A devastated Flanagan said the club was in mourning following the loss of the former Cronulla prop, but highlighted his bravery throughout the tough ordeal he confronted in his battle with Hodgkin's lymphoma.

"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."

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

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 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.

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 Australia 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.

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''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

- Sydney Morning Herald

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