Simon Mannering named as new Kiwis captain

DAVID LONG
Last updated 11:55 01/03/2013
Fairfax NZ

Simon Mannering has been named new Kiwis captain, leaving Benji Marshall "disappointed" to be stripped of the role.

Simon Mannering
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NEW CAPTAIN: Simon Mannering at today's press conference announcing him as Benji Marshall's replacement.

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Kiwis coach Stephen Kearney described it as a 'no brainer' to give the captaincy to Simon Mannering once he'd made the decision to take it off Benji Marshall.

Mannering was officially unveiled as the new Kiwis captain today and will lead them into their World Cup defence in England later this year.

Kearney said that the decision to move on from Marshall wasn't one that he took lightly and was something he had been pondering over for many months.

"The decision I've made is replacing Benji and it was a tough conversation I had with a guy that I put in charge of the Kiwis," Kearney said.

"But I thought the best thing for the group and for Benji was to replace him in that role and ultimately I think it will help him moving forward.

"He still remains an integral part of our team and group but today is about celebrating Simon Mannering as our new captain.

"As I said, it was an agonising decision on my part and one that I took a great deal of time over.

"In that process I was thinking about a suitable replacement, Simon just kept coming into my mind and it was a no brainer from my point of view.

"He is a well respected individual in the rugby league community, he's played 30 test matches now for us and every time he plays for the Kiwis he delivers.

"Where we're headed as a football group and the progress we've made over the last 18 months, Simon has been an integral part of that and it's with pleasure that I made the decision to install him as captain."

Marshall has told the Sydney Morning Herald that he was disappointed to lose the captaincy, but he is committed to giving his all for the Kiwis.

Kearney admitted that he was worried how Marshall would take the news.

"That was a concern on my part, but he remains an integral part of what we're about," he said.

"He is a member of the senior leadership group and his input is still very much valued.

"That was a worry but he told me he's committed to what we're trying to do, he understands that it's a decision I've made with the team's best interest.

"He is not going to hide his disappointment, but he's a big lad and he's overcome hurdles before."

Meanwhile, Mannering says he regards it as a huge honour to be the new Kiwis captain and regards it as one of the highlights of his career.

"Probably the biggest honour you can have in the game is to lead your country, I am looking forward to the new challenges and at what I can do for the team," Mannering said.

"Obviously, in my role I want to put the team first and this is a big year for the Kiwis and we'll be doing everything we can when we get over to England to defend the World Cup."

Mannering was initially concerned when he noticed he'd received a missed call from Kearney, but had little hesitation in accepting the job.

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"I had a missed call from Stephen and it sounded pretty urgent, it had me worried," he said.

"But he asked me and I told him straight away that I wasn't going to say no, but I talked to my old man and partner first and then gave him a call back."

- Stuff

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