Mannering out, Manu Vatuvei to lead Warriors
Mannering ruled out with injury
A "humbled" Manu Vatuvei will captain the Warriors against Manly in Perth on Saturday night after skipper Simon Mannering was ruled out with an ankle injury yesterday.
It had initially been hoped Mannering would recover from the injury that forced him from the field during last weekend's loss to the Knights in time to make the road trip to Western Australia.
But while the injury is not thought to be serious and Mannering is expected to be fit in time to take on the Sharks the following weekend, the Warriors have opted not to risk him on Saturday.
In his absence, Warriors coach Brian McClennan has opted to hand the armband to cult-hero winger Vatuvei.
It will be the first time "The Beast" has captained the Warriors despite a 146-game career which started in 2004.
"We're satisfied Simon isn't seriously injured but he'll be out this week," McClennan said.
"It's a big loss . . . because Simon does so much work for us and we're so used to having him out there every week and nearly always for the full 80 minutes.
"It's exciting, though, to be able to give big Manu the honour of captaining our club for the first time. He's a great man is Manu and he's really humbled to be given the job.
"We know he'll lead the way and the boys will be there giving him their full support."
The Warriors will make the long trek to Perth on Friday ahead of their round 21 match at Patersons Stadium.
For Mannering, Saturday's NRL match will be his first on the sideline in more than two years. In doing so, his run of 62 consecutive appearances for the club will end.
With Mannering out, McClennan has been forced to shuffle his back row and centre combinations, with Lewis Brown moved off the bench to start at left centre and Ben Henry named in the second row after being used as a centre throughout the season.
Giant forward Sam Lousi, meanwhile, who made his debut as a late replacement for Steve Rapira last weekend, is on the bench.
With six games left in the regular season, the Warriors are likely to need to win at least four of them to have any chance of making the playoffs.
NZ Warriors: Kevin Locke, Bill Tupou, Lewis Brown, Konrad Hurrell, Manu Vatuvei (c), James Maloney, Shaun Johnson, Russell Packer, Nathan Friend, Ben Matulino, Feleti Mateo, Ben Henry, Elijah Taylor. Interchange: Sam Lousi, Sione Lousi, Jacob Lillyman, Sebastine Ikahihifo, Pita Godinet.
- © Fairfax NZ News