David Skipwith is the Herald's rugby league reporter

NRL: Simon Mannering appreciates a lighter load

Simon Mannering congratulated by fans on his 250th game. Photosport
Simon Mannering congratulated by fans on his 250th game. Photosport

Warriors lock Simon Mannering has enjoyed being freed of the extra responsibilities of being club captain this season and has felt sorry for new skipper Ryan Hoffman during a turbulent first year in the role.

A week before round one, Mannering was replaced as Warriors captain after six years in charge, with Hoffman taking over.

After four years of missing the NRL finals, the Warriors' fortunes failed to improve, as Hoffman settled into the role for the first time as a 32-year-old in his 14th season of first grade.

Another disappointing finish made it difficult for Mannering to describe the year as enjoyable but the 30-year-old was pleased to put all his focus into performing his role each week.

"I probably enjoyed my footy a bit more but, to a certain extent when you're not performing as a team, you can only enjoy it so much," said Mannering.

"I definitely felt like there was less workload. I'd rather have had more work and be captain, if we were going to be successful."

Mannering chuckled when asked if he was relieved to be out of the firing line as another painful season post-mortem begins.

But he stressed he felt sorry for Hoffman in such difficult times and praised his contribution throughout the year.

"Probably ... no, you don't think that way," he said. "Hoffy's done a great job all year, so I don't think he could have done too much more.

"I've definitely felt for him at times because I've been through some of that stuff.
"It is harder as captain when things aren't going well, because you definitely take a lot more on your shoulders and responsibility.

"And sometimes it's not necessary but you just feel like that's the position you're in."

The 257-game veteran was appointed captain by former Warriors coach Ivan Cleary in 2010 and held the job under his successors Brian McClennan and Matt Elliott before current coach Andrew McFadden took over early in 2014.

He insists sacking McFadden would not remedy the club's problems and believed the players needed to be more accountable for their on-field woes.

"I don't think changing the coach is going to help. That definitely isn't the answer.

"From the weekend [loss to Wests Tigers], we've only got ourselves to blame. As a playing group, we have to take the onus on that, no one else. "We're out on the field and we've got control of what happens there. Us as players obviously have to do something different."

Meanwhile, after missing last year's end of season Kiwis tour to England and the Anzac test against Australia in May through illness and injury, the former New Zealand captain is excited to be in contention for the Four Nations tournament in England during November.

Mannering said he is just hoping to make the squad and hadn't discussed the possibility of reclaiming the national captaincy, which was shared by Issac Luke, Adam Blair and Jesse Bromwich.

"I'd be stoked to be back in the side as a player more than anything. It's [coach Stephen Kearney's] decision. I'd happy to be back in the jersey."

- NZ Herald

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