Mannering to miss Warriors' season opener

Last updated 16:44 09/03/2010

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New skipper Simon Mannering's wait to lead the New Zealand Warriors continues after he was ruled out of the club's NRL season opener against Gold Coast at Robina on Sunday.

Mannering, 23, took over the captaincy in the off-season from prop Steve Price but missed all three of the Warriors' trial matches because of a hamstring injury.

Coach Ivan Cleary said today that the decision was made not to risk the second rower while he was making his recovery.

"Simon's close to being right but there's no point in playing him at this stage of the season until we're all satisfied he's ready to go," he said.

"Hopefully he'll be able to play next week but we won't rush things."

With Mannering out, lock Micheal Luck, in his 99th match for the Warriors, will deputise as skipper.

Mannering's absence means 20-year-old Sione Lousi, a former Junior Warrior who played in all three trials against the Sydney Roosters, North Queensland and Manly, is in line to make his NRL debut from the bench.

"He did a terrific job in every match and he has also worked really hard throughout the off-season," Cleary said.

Three other players will make their first appearances for the Warriors -- the halfback and five-eighth pairing of Brett Seymour and James Maloney, and prop James Maloney, who is among the reserves.

Cleary said there was a lot of competition for the No 6 jersey, but Maloney, formerly with Manly, had shown in the pre-season matches that he deserved the first shot at the job.

At fullback, Lance Hohaia has been chosen to start ahead of regular custodian Wade McKinnon, who is on the interchange bench.

Centre Brent Tate will play his first NRL match since suffering a serious ankle injury against Brisbane in round three last year.

The other centre is Jerome Ropati, while Joel Moon, an option for both the five-eighth and centre spots, is named on the bench.

Apart from Mannering, Price and fellow forward Jacob Lillyman were ruled out with heel and foot problems respectively.

WARRIORS: Lance Hohaia, Kevin Locke, Brent Tate, Jerome Ropati, Manu Vatuvei, James Maloney, Brett Seymour, Sam Rapira, Aaron Heremaia, Russell Packer, Lewis Brown, Ben Matulino, Micheal Luck (captain). Interchange (from): Wade McKinnon, Jeremy Latimore, Jesse Royal, Sione Lousi, Joel Moon.

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- NZPA

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