Warriors' still without a captain for 2013

BEN STANLEY
Last updated 05:00 23/12/2012
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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The Warriors will head into 2013 without a captain.

After the way second rower Simon Mannering has grown into the role over the last two years, that's a statement that will come as a surprise to most in the NRL.

But it's one that rings very true as the Warriors head into their Christmas break. New coach Matt Elliott has been quoted multiple times in the media over the last two months saying he hadn't made up his mind on who would be leading the first-grade side on to the paddock come next season - and that hasn't changed.

"I'll answer that question when the answer is available," he told Sunday News this week.

While Mannering remains the likely candidate to be named skipper in the coming weeks, Elliott does have some experienced leadership candidates at his disposal.

Halfback Thomas Leuluai has returned to the Warriors fold, and has impressed his new coach with his experience and maturity at training. Don't rule him out of taking the captain's armband.

Hooker Nathan Friend could be another option. The former Titan has been at the middle of everything at Warriors trainings over previous weeks, and retains the title as the fittest player in an impressively in-tune side this summer.

Mannering himself, ever the humble bloke, believes whatever decision Elliott makes, it will be for the best of the team.

"It's up to Matt to back that decision," he said.

"It's definitely nothing I'd turn down but I think he'll do what's right and what's best for the team.

"That's what we all believe he should do. Whatever he sees fit for this side, then us players will be happy to follow that person."

Elliott said he had been delighted with the way his new side had dug in over the last two months, and was similarly happy with the announcement last week that the NRL would be doing away with the "benefit of the doubt" rule for tries - taking away further power from the video referees.

"I think it's always been a strength of rugby league that we can adapt the rules to ensure that the game remains flowing," he said.

"We respond to what the fans want. With all this stuff, there will be some teething problems that us coaches will find in the process. I wouldn't pay too much attention to the coaches - I think this is a positive thing for the sport."

The Warriors broke camp on Friday for their Christmas break, and will return to the club on January 3.

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