Michael Burgess

Michael Burgess is the football and rugby league writer for the Herald on Sunday.

NRL: Mannering the skipper

After months of deliberation, the Warriors come up with the obvious choice for captain - the incumbent.

Simon Mannering of the Warriors. Photo / Getty Images
Simon Mannering of the Warriors. Photo / Getty Images

The decision has taken longer than most expected but the Warriors captain will be named today.

After months of speculation incumbent skipper Simon Mannering will be confirmed as the leader for the 2013 NRL season - just 23 days out from the first trial match.

It will be Mannering's fourth season at the helm and leaves him on track to become the longest serving skipper in the club's history.

There was consideration given to some other contenders but Mannering stood out as the outstanding candidate, despite the damage done by the forgettable 2012 season.

A surprise choice - like in 2010 when Mannering usurped Steve Price - was always unlikely but coach Matthew Elliott had been steadfast in his refusal not to make a rushed decision.

"It was always my intention that the announcement would be made close to us beginning our trials [the first is against Gold Coast on February 9]," said Elliott.

"It was all about working through a full process and making an informed decision for the right reasons. We've all had time together to reach this point."

The players were informed of the decision last week and Mannering welcomed the chance to have another season in charge.

"It was a massive honour when I was first offered the job and that feeling hasn't changed," he said.

"I'm privileged to lead the Warriors every time we play but being captain isn't about what's best for me. It's about what suits the team best. It's the same for all of us."

Mannering - who by all reports has been outstanding during a physically arduous pre-season campaign, always stuck out as the logical choice at a club not overly blessed with experience.

Todd Lowrie and Thomas Leuluai have also been impressive in the pre-season but giving them the armband in their first season at the club would have been a huge call.

Nathan Friend also came under consideration and appeals as a good leader but the 31-year-old would not be a long term choice and has also been hit by injuries in the last few seasons.

Of the other contenders Sam Rapira would struggle with the many off-field demands of the role and youngsters like Elijah Taylor and Ben Henry are still finding their feet in first grade.

Since 2010, Mannering has grown into the role and is hugely respected. He has become an assertive communicators with referees, one of the most crucial aspects of the game.

At 26, he has plenty of time ahead, as well as 165 NRL games behind him - more than any other current Warrior. He also spends the majority of each game on the field and has a better injury record than most forwards.

A week after the Titans' match the Warriors meet Penrith at Waikato Stadium before their final trial against Brisbane in Dunedin on February 23.

- NZ Herald

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