Set of Six: Apparent consistency hides captain's failings

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Is Simon Mannering the right choice as Warriors captain? Photo / Getty Images
Is Simon Mannering the right choice as Warriors captain? Photo / Getty Images

Justis Kamu questions the captaincy of Simon Mannering as well as looking at the other key talking points in the NRL this week

1 - Simple Simon needs to stand up
If coaches are judged on wins, captains are judged on their ability to inspire their teammates to victory. On that premise Matthew Elliott should be shown the door and Simon Mannering should relinquish his post. Viewed as the club's Mr Consistent for being the side's most consistent player, indeed he was exactly that, but that was back in 2011. This season, much like the last, he has only displayed glimpses of his best form.
Yet his public persona of being 'dependable', 'gives it his all every week' holds him unfairly high above the rest of his teammates in spite his own erratic form.

He has not been a regular standout performer but still manages to reap kudos for adding some attacking variety in recent games i.e. an offload, to his limited repertoire of ball skills. Saturday's night's humiliating 62-6 loss to the Panthers was another example of a couple of the Warriors' major problems - defence and mental application.

These playing concerns have existed at the club since last season, before Elliott's reign.

Mannering has seen the changeover in the coaching regimes yet despite having the best view of the side's on-field problems, his leadership has not addressed these issues which have persisted 10 rounds into 2013. His quiet nature and follow-me approach is admirable however this current squad require a leader that will lay a verbal smack-down on his teammates when they find themselves between a rock and a hard place.

Since Mannering was given the 'C' in 2010, the team have finished 5th, 2nd (2011), 15th (2012) and have achieved the worst start to a season in the club's 18 year history (2013).
The club's win/loss record during this period has now dipped below the .500 mark. The last time the Warriors were in a similar predicament it resulted in the sacking of Brian McClennan.

If Elliott goes, Mannering needs to be held to more scrutinised accountability for his ineptness to steer his teammates to win games. After all, he has been the club's captain during a series of losing records which have all occurred in past 18 months.

2 - Dugan excites on NRL return
Josh Dugan put in a star performance in the Dragons 32-12 victory over the Parramatta Eels at WIN Stadium. Dugan was sacked by the Canberra Raiders after round one due to repeated breaches of the club's code of conduct. Having nine weeks off from the rigours of league seemed to pay dividends for the cocky 23 year old who appeared fresh, enthusiastic and more importantly match-ready against the 14th placed Eels.

Starting in his customary position of fullback, he scored two tries, ran for 222m, seven tackle busts, two line breaks in a man of the match performance. However his Dragons debut wasn't smooth sailing with Dugan making two errors and twice ended up on his backside after big tackles from opposite Jarryd Hayne. The Dragons climb to 12th on the competition ladder after their weekend's victory, their fourth victory of the season, and now just one win outside of the top eight.

After a less than impressive start to their 2013 campaign the addition of Dugan to the Red V makes them a serious contender for the playoffs and a team that opponents will have happy to avoid.

3. Peter Hiku soaring as a Sea Eagle
Well done to former Junior Warriors winger Peter Hiku for taking his opportunities in first-grade with the Manly Sea Eagles. Hiku, a Manurewa Marlins junior, has been a reliable replacement for the Northern Beaches club where he has appeared on the wing and fullback. He hasn't looked out of place in the top flight and coach Geoff Toovey's belief in his ability has been emphasised by utilising him at fullback in the absence of Brett Stewart - which is certainly a compliment.

Last weekend against the Roosters he ran for a game high 162m and followed that up with a solid outing against the Storm on Monday night with 100m, four tackle busts and one line break. The 21-year-old has been a smart acquisition for the Sea Eagles who also swooped for the services of another former junior Warrior, prop Ligi Sao, a leading frontrower in last year's National Youth Competition (Under 20s).

It's a cause for concern for the Warrior's development system when Hiku, their 2012 Under 20's player of the year, is demonstrating his skills on the NRL stage in another club's colours. However this is not the first time that it has happened with Sydney Roosters rake Nafe Seuluini dished off to the Penrith Panthers after collecting the same gong in 2010.

4. Will the Cowboys re-sign Matt Bowen?
North Queensland Cowboys fullback Matt Bowen has played 260 games for his much-loved Townsville club. His career has spanned 12 seasons in the north of Australia but it appears his time with the Cowboys will likely cease at the duration of the season. At the age of 32, Bowen is keen to play one more season at 1300 Smiles Stadium, though the club have been reluctant to present him with a new contract,

The main issue concerning the club is whether they will be able to reap enough production from an elder player running around on reconstructed knees. Currently, the former Queensland representative is closely monitored by their medical staff every week, and participates in his own modified training regime. Cowboys coach Neil Henry wants him to stay but the final call on a possible new contract is made by senior management who are uncertain that he will survive the full 2014 season.

Good friend and club captain Jonathan Thurston has expressed his wish for his teammate to stay, believing that his best form this season is still to come. Bowen to wishes to remain a one player club, but if he must go there are suitors waiting in the wings with the Gold Coast Titans and a couple of Super League clubs interested in securing the veteran's services.

5. Raiders unearth little gem in Milford
It's rare to see in today's NRL competition school-aged teenagers getting a run in first grade. Karmichael Hunt (17), Israel Folau (17), Greg Inglis (18) and even former Warrior Brett Seymour (17) played first grade before or at the age of 18. It was fairly common practice before the NYC that if there were kids that had the ability to play at the highest level then they were given the opportunity to do so.

Nowadays, the NYC acts as the prerequisite for young players who must demonstrate their playing skills against their peers before graduating to the top side. So it's good to see that the Canberra Raiders are willing to show faith in their junior development by playing 18-year-old Anthony Milford off the interchange bench.

Milford has been a star performer in their current NYC side and earned selection to the Queensland Under 20s side for his displays in the junior green machine. In his fourth senior outing, the young halfback showed an exciting display of his attacking skills with two tries and a neat grubber for teammate Blake Ferguson to score.

Milford's first try was a brilliant solo effort where he received a Shaun Fensom offload and stepped past a flailing Michael Gordan. His second try saw him duck and weave out of tackles and pass to a teammate before he backed up to receive the pass and wiggle his way through three defenders to score.

6. Team of the week - round 101. Fullback - Greg Inglis (Rabbitohs)
2. Wing - Beau Ryan (Sharks)
3. Centre - Lewis Brown (Panthers)
4. Centre - Dylan Walker (Rabbitohs)
5. Wing - Daniel Vidot (Dragons)
6. Five-eighth - Isaac John (Panthers)
7. Halfback - Adam Reynolds (Rabbitohs)
8. Prop - Mose Masoe (Panthers)
9. Hooker - Jake Friend (Roosters)
10. Prop - Kade Snowden (Knights)
11. Secondrow - Alex Glenn (Broncos)
12. Secondrow - Sonny Bill Williams (Roosters)
13 Lock - Corey Parker (Broncos)

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