Mannering won't be used to patch up centres

DUNCAN JOHNSTONE
Last updated 05:00 31/10/2012
Simon Mannering
Jason Oxenham/Fairfax NZ
CAPTAIN FANTASTIC?: Simon Mannering led the Warriors well in 2012 but has yet to earn the role for 2013.

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New Warriors coach Matthew Elliott has made it clear he doesn't' want to see Simon Mannering patching up problems in the centres.

Having spent a couple of weeks settling at the NRL club and now getting down to the nitty-gritty of serious one-on-ones with his playing staff, Elliott said he wanted specialists operating in key areas.

The versatile Mannering has frequently had to move out of his preferred position inn the back row to cover backline injuries in the past couple of seasons, especially with classy centre Jerome Ropati repeatedly in the medical ward.

Elliott said he would shortly unveil "three or four" new signings to cover "areas where we are skinny", pointing to the outside backs.

"They aren't going to make people faint," Elliot said of the calibre of players being courted.

But he emphasised he was largely content with the quality of personnel already at the club.

A lot of his work was about getting the best out of them.

"I don't want to see Simon Mannering have to play centre. He is a high-level international class backrower," Elliott said with firmness.

"Ben Henry also played a lot at centre but I think his development as a footy player is best served in the back row as well. He's an exciting talent.

"It's great that we have that versatility but you need to play your best players in their best positions.

"Preseason training starts on Monday and Elliott is still to name his two assistant coaches.

The club is waiting on an answer from long-serving assistant Tony Iro who has two years to run on a contract that was linked to working with Brian McClennan who was sacked two games before the end of the season.

"Tony's situation is one that needs to be determined. We've had really open, honest conversations. What an impressive guy. I've admired the way he has handled himself and I think everyone knows what my preference is.

"But it's down to Tony's preference now," Elliott said.

As for preseason training, Elliott promised a hard few weeks for his squad though he winced when the word "flogging" was raised.

"Flogging guys is something that's not from this era... but you need to train hard as well."

Meanwhile, the Warriors are keen to explore Asia and believe their new sponsorship with a Chinese company will allow them the opportunity to break into that lucrative market.

The Warriors yesterday unveiled a three-year deal with Fernbaby, a company hoping to provide a New Zealand alternative to the infant formula available here but also export into Asia, particularly China.

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Fernbaby will be on the Junior Warriors uniforms next year and move on to the NRL team's playing apparel in 2014 and 2015.Warriors CEO Wayne Scurrah said playing preseason games in Asia was "totally realistic".

"Having such a well-credentialed company with a lot of contacts through Asia, opens up a lot of contacts and opportunities," Scurrah said."

Every year there are more and more countries and cities talking about wanting to host the NRL, whether it's preseason games or in-season games. I just think it's part of our future plans."

- Fairfax Media

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