NRL: Mannering brings up double milestone

Simon Mannering. Photo / Richard Robinson.
Simon Mannering. Photo / Richard Robinson.

Simon Mannering is thankful his milestone matches come in pairs because it means he can get the uncomfortable business of talking about himself out of the way in one hit.

Ask Mannering to make four consecutive tackles, and he will do it. Ask the 25-year-old what it means to him to be playing his 150th NRL game on the same night as his 50th as Warriors captain, and he's more circumspect.

"Ummm, I don't know, to be honest,'' he offered after a long pause. "There aren't too many who have played 150 games for the Warriors and I am proud to be a part of that crew but I don't know. I'm not thinking about it.''

He wasn't belittling the achievement, especially as he will become just the sixth player in history to play 150 games for the Warriors, but will no doubt enjoy the fact his 200th NRL game would also likely coincide with his 100th as captain.

"It's nice to cut [talking about me] down a bit,'' he said.

Mannering is more worried about how to ensure the Warriors start better against the Titans at Mt Smart Stadium on Saturday night than they have in their first three NRL games this season. They allowed Manly to jump out to a 16-0 in their season opener, Parramatta to build an 8-0 lead and the Bulldogs a 16-0 headstart.

They came back on all three occasions, and beat the Eels 36-20, but don't want to give the Titans an early advantage.

"It's not a thing you go out and plan for, to let the other team get a headstart like that,'' Mannering said. "I know at the weekend [against the Bulldogs] there was plenty of energy at the start. It's not like we were flat. It's just execution, with the ball and without the ball. Let's hope we get it right this weekend because we can't go all year letting teams getting far ahead. It just makes it too hard getting back into games.''

Coach Brian McClennan has spent time this week on ensuring his side starts well but said it would take more time before they hit their straps.

"It's not attitude,'' he said. "It's a matter of us all getting used to each other. I said at the outset you won't see our best football until round six and I still stand by that. Obviously we want to have a more dominant start and it will get us into a better position to wrestle control of the game.''

It will help if they can improve their defence on the fringes, which the Bulldogs exploited last weekend. Centre Jerome Ropati claimed responsibility for that but others also missed crucial tackles or made poor defensive reads.

The Warriors could welcome back prop Sam Rapira, who has missed the season so far with a shoulder injury, with McClennan rating him a 50-50 chance of playing. Konrad Hurrell (head knock and hand) and James Maloney (head and ankle) should be fit to play in a game the Warriors will be expected to win.

The Titans have an identical record to the Warriors with one win and one defeat and last weekend were beaten 30-6 by Melbourne.

Saturday's match will mark Titans prop Luke Douglas' 150th consecutive NRL game - he hasn't missed a match since making his NRL debut for the Sharks in 2006 - but they are expected to be without Australia and NSW centre Jamal Idris (hamstring).

The Warriors aren't convinced, with McClennan saying they were planning as if Idris would play.

Of more pressing concern to Gold Coast, however, is their future as a club. The new Australian Rugby League Commission are weighing up whether to let the big-spending club who are battling crippling debts fold and then start from scratch with a new franchise in the region.

- APNZ

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