In the lap of the gods and reins of Mannering

DAVID LONG
Last updated 05:00 01/06/2014
Simon Mannering
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CAPTAIN FANTASTIC: Today is Simon Mannering's double centennial appearance.

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His team-mates reckon it is serendipity.

Fans will insist it is fitting karma for one of the NRL's most under-rated players. His coach will undoubtedly hope it inspires his team-mates to produce a team performance to savour against the Knights.

Whatever alignment of the rugby league gods occurred to set up this afternoon's confrontation with Newcastle as Simon Mannering's 200th NRL appearance and 100th as Warriors captain, it is a welcome development.

The tributes have predictably been flowing for 27-year-old Mannering from within Warriors HQ this last week.

They were led by the club's first captain and now football manager, Dean Bell, who said Mannering should be regarded as one of the club's greatest players.

"You look at iconic players and think of guys who've been here a long time, like Stacey Jones," Bell noted. "We all know what kind of impact he had on the club and I think Simon has had the same and he could go on to surpass Stacey's records.

"What you want out of your players is consistency, durability and never-say-die attitude and that's what he delivers. I'm a massive fan of Simon's. I didn't know a lot about him when I first came back to the club, but I've grown to be a huge admirer of him."

Stacey Jones played 261 games for the Warriors, so Mannering is still a few years away from eclipsing him as the Warriorwith the most matches. But the Little General says Mannering is an inspiring figure at the club.

"The biggest thing is what he does on the field and his durability, that's where the players really have respect for him," Jones said. "He is a quiet bloke away from footy, but Simon certainly leads from the front."

Jones was on the field when Mannering made his Warriors debut against the Broncos in June 2005 and says he could immediately sense he was set for a long career.

"He worked really hard as soon as he came into the Warriors and just got on with his business with a hard work ethic and that's just continued on from then," Jones said. "You get a lot of kids that come in and soon get thinking that they've made it. But with Simon he just got stuck in and took his opportunity."

Michael Luck, who spent seven years playing alongside Mannering, sent a video message to him through the club's website and said it was remarkable that he's reached these milestones at such a young age.

"It's a huge achievement for anyone, but for you for a couple of reasons," Luck told Mannering. "You'll do it at a pretty young age, although you look wise beyond your years, you're still very young and have achieved so much in a short space of time in the NRL.

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"Secondly, that it coincides with your 100th game as captain is amazing as well. I remember your first game when you ran out as captain in 2010, against Cronulla at home. We got up that night and hopefully that repeats itself this weekend."

Coach Andrew McFadden and a faithful Warriors crowd waiting for an overdue return to Mt Smart Stadium undoubtedly feel the same way.

It's over to the league gods now.

- Sunday Star Times

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