TOUGH NUT: Simon Mannering of the New Zealand Warriors will play his 250th game this weekend.
TOUGH NUT: Simon Mannering of the New Zealand Warriors will play his 250th game this weekend. DAN PELED

Mannering to mark 250th in crucial clash

WARRIORS lock Simon Mannering admits his body is feeling the effects of a torrid career as he approaches his 250th NRL match against the Gold Coast tomorrow.

The former club captain showed no signs of slowing down in Saturday’s golden-point loss to Cronulla, getting through a typically phenomenal 67 tackles before being replaced three minutes into extra-time.

“Definitely the last few years it’s caught up on me,” the 29-year-old warhorse said ahead of the clash at Mt Smart Stadium.

“The game’s getting harder and harder and I’m getting older and older so it makes it harder to get out of bed in the morning and get up for training.

“The club’s been really good to me over the last couple of years and done a really good job managing me through that to get me playing games. That’s the most important thing.”

Never one to talk himself up, Mannering was doing his best to downplay his achievement in becoming just the second Warriors player behind Stacey Jones to reach the 250-game mark.

Having handed the captain’s armband over to Ryan Hoffman ahead of round one, he admits his game has benefited from being relieved of the leadership duties.

“I feel pretty lucky I’ve had the chance to represent the club that many times and it’s been an honour,” he said.

“I definitely feel there’s less emphasis on me and my role in the team. I would say I’ve enjoyed my role in the team more without the captaincy.”

Warriors coach Andrew McFadden, meanwhile, is looking for his side to maintain the high level of effort that resulted in it winning three straight matches before the 19-18 loss to the Sharks.

The Titans (10th on the ladder) are level with the Warriors (11th) on 16 points, with tomorrow’s match crucial to both sides’ top eight hopes.

“We’ve had a good consistent month and we’ve got to keep building on that,” McFadden said.

“That’s just got to be the benchmark for us, the minimum standard, and that’s what we’re trying to do.

“They’re a really highly skilled side ... We’re expecting a tough challenge.”

McFadden praised Mannering’s contribution and his unrivalled ability to play through pain and adversity, while likening his relentless energy to that of former Canberra, New South Wales and Kangaroos legend Bradley Clyde.

“I’ve met players that can give everything but I haven’t met players like Simon that can do it under a fair bit of duress,” said McFadden.

“People won’t even know what he’s had to put up with in a game before and he’s certainly the ultimate Warrior.

“Brad was very much of the same ilk. He was very hard-working, played 80 minutes (and) never stopped for the team.”

Clyde remains the only player to have won two Clive Churchill Medals as the best player in a grand final (1989 and 1991) and Mannering admits an elusive premiership would provide the ultimate reward with his contract due to expire in 2018.

“We’ve had a few cracks at it over time and only got to the grand final once. That’d be the ultimate way to finish up,” he said.

APNZ



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