NRL: Warriors focused after coaching announcement

Simon Mannering. Photo / Getty Images
Simon Mannering. Photo / Getty Images

Skipper Simon Mannering today welcomed the certainty provided by the appointment of the New Zealand Warriors' next coach, but said the players' focus remained on their present National Rugby League campaign.

The Auckland-based club on Monday named former Kiwi and Leeds coach Brian McClennan to take over from Penrith-bound Ivan Cleary next season on a two-year deal.

"Everyone knows who's going to be here next year, so it's security for the club and for the players," Mannering said.

"But that's next year, so we're not really worried about it as yet. We're just worried about doing the job this year."

With five rounds to go, the Warriors are sixth on the table and looking to extend a four-match winning streak when they cross the Tasman to face fourth-placed Brisbane on Saturday night.

It was while McClennan was New Zealand coach that Mannering made his Kiwi debut as a 20-year-old in the 2006 Tri-Nations.

"I only had one year under him at the Kiwis but he obviously gave me my shot in the New Zealand team and I've very thankful for that," he said.

"He's a real people person and one who relates to his players well, and it definitely worked for the Kiwis."

Winger Manu Vatuvei was also pleased that the uncertainty over who Cleary's replacement would be had been removed.

"It was good to get it out of the way," he said.

"We have to focus on this year. We don't want to look too far ahead, Our goal is to win the comp and we have to take it week by week."

Vatuvei, 25, is another who made his test debut under McClennan.

That came in the 2005 Tri-Nations, which ended in the Kiwis pulling off a stunning 24-0 upset over the Kangaroos in the final in Leeds, with Vatuvei, then 19, scoring two his team's four tries.

He said he would have backed whomever the Warriors chose as their next coach.

He also described McClennan as a calm operator who knew his stuff, and who now faced the challenge of transferring his success with the Kiwis and in the Super League to the NRL.


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