Mannering's focus firmly on the team

BEN STANLEY
Last updated 11:10 15/07/2012

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The sun will rise, the sun will set. Rivers will flow, long roads will be walked, and the Warriors shall go on a late season run.

Some things never change. More than most people, Warriors skipper Simon Mannering is aware of his team's history at this point in previous seasons.

Since his debut in 2005, the Warriors have made the top eight four times, and the early signs are beginning to emerge at Mt Smart Stadium that a fifth finals campaign may well just be around the corner.

Last year's team famously went all the way to the Big Dance, coming off the back of a blistering run of seven victories from their final nine regular season match-ups.

Yet Mannering, who made his 163rd Warriors appearance against the Broncos on Friday, warns that the players, and the fans, shouldn't automatically think history will repeat in 2012.

He doesn't think the Warriors history of turning on the afterburners for the final few rounds will have their opposition rattled either.

"We just want to concentrate on ourselves, and I'm sure other teams are the same," Mannering said. "They don't worry about what anyone else is doing.

"I know we've gone pretty well in the past in the back half of seasons, but you can't rely on what's happened before to get you through this year."

Any time last year's heroics or the permutations required for playoff footy this season has been mentioned around Mt Smart Stadium in previous weeks, a familiar response has been delivered: it's all about taking it one game at a time.

It's the simplicity of that approach, Mannering believes, that is best for the team.

"I don't think you can be looking at what any other teams are doing," the quietly-spoken second rower said.

"You've got to worry about what you can control. It's dead right. It's `who have we got this week', then `who have we got the next week' when we're done with them.

"You don't want to be looking too far ahead. I think it's just a good mindset to get into, just concentrating on the job at hand.

"Before you know it, the last games of the year will be upon you and you want to be playing for as long as you can at that stage. Each week as it comes, and concentrate on that. Whatever comes after that, so be it."

Mannering has been at his ever-steady best for the Warriors in 2012, starting all 17 games so far, while registering among the club's top tacklers, and metre-gatherers.

Yet the 25-year-old will deflect questions about his own game when asked. Mannering prefers to talk about his team, and what is required to see them performing better and better.

Defence has been a bit of an issue, he acknowledges, as have their error rate (fourth worst in the competition with 180 errors).

"You just really control the game by doing the basics well," he said.

"I think that's what goes the furthest in any game. If you defend well, and do your basics well with the ball in hand, you've got your bases covered.

"Especially on our team. When we defend well, we play well. It's probably been our biggest letdown this year – our defence."

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