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This week we catch up with our former forward Odell Manuel who played 19 matches for the club between 2001-2002. 

What do you do for work now?

I'm just a glorified council worker now. Nothing special mate, I just work up in Rockhampton now as a truck driver, nothing special mate, but it pays the bills.

I just drive the trucks for the council, just a council worker. Nothing hard, bro.

I moved here back in 2006 when I left the Raiders and the Cowboys wanted me to play in the Intrust Super Cup here. I got a chance but I only played six games and I got diagnosed with osteoarthritis in my knee so I had to retire from footy in 2006.

That's what made me move to Rockhampton and then not long after that I started going to the gym. You're training for the rest of your life, you've just got to do something. I went to the gym and did a few weights here and there and the powerlifting boys said I reckon you should do a powerlifting comp.

I ended up doing my first one in 2009 and the rest is history, bro. I ended up going pretty well so at the moment I'm the best powerlifter in Australia so that's a bit of a blessing. I don't know if I was born to do this but I'm here in a humble way I've always stayed with the weights so I suppose this is just manifesting it.

When I think about it I've always been bad at weights and I never was to good at cardio, but I suppose that was why I was on the wing. I still remember the good days of the NRL, not everyone gets to play in the NRL, I wasn't the best player going around but at least I can say I got to play with the best.

What's your favourite memory as a Raider?

We played the Broncos and I scored two tries, that's big for me. We beat them up in Brisbane it was Wendall Sailor's last game I think it was 2001.

They were all set up tries just the fact that I scored against them. Back then the Broncos were number one and to score against the Broncos even though they were easy ones just to cross over the line it was a huge buzz for me and we won that game too so it was good.

What did it mean to you, to where the Raiders jersey?

Originally, I came mainly because of Mal. Big Mal was the coach and I wanted to be coached under Mal and I've always had a thing for the Green Machine, I watched them back in the 90s and it was something special when they asked me to come over and join them.

It's a shame the way I left, I got a bit homesick but when I played for the Raiders I put in a good effort. My boy is only five years old now but I'm hoping he gets into footy and if he gets a look in at the Raiders I'll tell him to go there because it was a good setup in Canberra.

Who was your favourite teammate?

It was a guy named Anthony Swann, he wasn't there that long either. He was there before me, he came in 2000 but yeah Anthony Swann was my favourite teammate there he was really good. He was there before me and when I came in to make the transition from New Zealand to Australia he helped me out with getting into a house and gave me his car to drive. Anthony Swann was really good, I'll never forget it.

Do you keep in touch with any of your former teammates?

On Facebook, yeah. Ruben Wiki and all those guys. I see them on Facebook, even my old coach Matthew Elliott he's even on there. That's the good thing about Facebook, you can keep in touch with everybody.

I haven't caught up with them in person but hopefully one day I can but I've talked to them on Facebook.

What was your funniest moment as a Raider?

Probably not the funniest but the most embarrassing was when I was going for a try and got it knocked out.

I was going for a try against the Northern Eagles and somebody came from the back. I thought I was in and somebody came from the back and banged the ball out.

I didn't see him, I beat the fullback and then I went for the line and as I went to go down he smashed the ball out of my hands so that was a little bit embarrassing and funny.

He got the best of me and I just had to move on but it was a little bit embarrassing.

Do you have any advice for younger players?

Stay grounded.

You see a lot of fellas now and even when I was playing but you see a lot of guys that once they make NRL and get a bit of money that they change, I believe in staying humble and staying grounded.
For me, at the end of the day you're in the limelight so if you can just humble yourself and keep your head down and do what you have to do and stay grounded.

A lot of these guys probably had but then they get their taste of being the star and it changes them. If you stay grounded I believe you'll be good and that's why you see all the greats like Ruben and all those guys they're still going good now they just stayed grounded and humble and that's why they ended up being great like Mal and all that.

Acknowledgement of Country

Canberra Raiders respect and honour the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.