NRL: Vatuvei to captain Warriors in Mannering's absence

Manu Vatuvei of the Warriors.
Manu Vatuvei of the Warriors.

Warriors captain Simon Mannering will miss his first NRL match in more than two years after being ruled out Saturday's clash against Manly in Perth.

Mannering injured his right ankle late in last weekend's loss to Newcastle at Mount Smart Stadium, but club medical staff are optimistic he will be able to return for the encounter with Cronulla next weekend.

His absence has resulted in a career-first for winger Manu Vatuvei, who has been named to lead the side as he returns from his own injury-enforced one-week break.

"We're satisfied Simon isn't seriously injured but he'll be out this week," Warriors coach Brian McClennan said.

"It's a big loss for us obviously, because Simon does so much work and we're so used to having him out there every week and nearly always for the full 80 minutes.

"It's exciting, though, to be able to give big Manu the honour of captaining our club for the first time. He's a great man and he's really humbled to be given the job. We know he'll lead the way and the boys will be there giving him their full support."

Mannering will miss his first NRL match since the 10th-round match against North Queensland in May, 2010. A week later he began a run of 62 consecutive appearances for the club.

With Mannering out, McClennan has shuffled his back row and centre combinations, with Lewis Brown moved off the bench to start at left centre and Ben Henry named in the second row after being used as a centre in all 18 matches so far this season.

Giant forward Sam Lousi, who last weekend made his debut after Steve Rapira's injury in the warm-up, will make his second appearance for the club. He will be joined on the bench by former Junior Warriors teammate and debutant Sebastine Ikahihifo.

Also on the bench is Sione Lousi, playing his 19th consecutive game this season, and the experienced Jacob Lillyman. Pita Godinet has been named 18th man.

Warriors team to play Manly at Patersons Stadium in Perth on Saturday, kick-off 9.30pm NZT is: Kevin Locke, Bill Tupou, Lewis Brown, Konrad Hurrell, Manu Vatuvei (c), James Maloney, Shaun Johnson, Russell Packer, Nathan Friend, Ben Matulino, Feleti Mateo, Ben Henry, Elijah Taylor. Interchange: Sam Lousi, Sione Lousi, Jacob Lillyman, Sebastine Ikahihifo, Pita Godinet.

- APNZ

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