Tony Veitch: Mannering every bit a real Warrior

By Tony Veitch

Simon Mannering of the Warriors in action in the NZ Warriors v Melbourne Storm NRL rugby league match. Photo / Jason Oxenham
Simon Mannering of the Warriors in action in the NZ Warriors v Melbourne Storm NRL rugby league match. Photo / Jason Oxenham

Ask most disgruntled and frustrated Warriors fans who their No 1 club legend is and I'll bet most would go with the Little General, Stacey Jones.

After all, he is a Golden Boot winner. He ran that team in that remarkable run to the 2002 grand final. He was a match winner.

But as is often the case with the rugby codes, the playmakers tend to steal headlines, good and bad.

They create the magic, whether it be that flick pass from Benji Marshall for the Tigers in the 2005 grand final, or Stacey's one-man effort to slice through the Roosters in the 2002 decider.

What's not so easy to gauge or rate is a bloke who never stops tackling, never seems to get injured and, most importantly, is rock solid week in, week out, for a club that is anything but.

Tonight, Simon Mannering breaks the record for most Warriors appearances with his 262nd game when they take on the Dragons.

This is the same Mannering who has been labelled a poor leader and overrated by some of the club's own fans.

The criticism cut so deep that Mannering admitted to me a few years back that he seriously considered leaving the fish bowl of Auckland and moving to Sydney.

Then he could play without the barbs and accusations that he is part of the reason the Warriors aren't a tough, winning football side. That's laughable.

Ask any opposing coach for their thoughts on Mannering and the reaction is the same.

They'd take him any day of the week.

Why? Because stats don't lie. His tackle count on a weekly basis is ridiculous. His consistency is the same.

You know what you get with Mannering: 80 minutes of relentless grind.

As we've seen with his reluctance to captain this side, Mannering is not an extrovert, he's not flashy, he's not going to break the line and run 80 metres.

Maybe that's where his critics come from.

But he is a Warrior in every sense of the word. Give me 13 Mannerings and I reckon you would not see the limp performances of recent years.

Tonight he makes history in a team that has constantly let him down. So let's hope the Warriors repay Mannering with a performance he deserves.

What I learnt this week

Professional sport is still about winning at all costs, even if it means risking your long-term health.

The concussion debate raged again, with the NRL imposing massive fines on three clubs allowing players to stay on the pitch when they were in no fit state to do so.

The clubs are fighting the penalties and good luck to them.

The most honest assessment of this issue came from a couple of current players on Fox Sports.

Aaron Woods from the Tigers and Bulldog James Graham admitted clubs are intentionally creating "false" head knocks for their forwards at key times in the match to give them a much-needed rest and gain a free interchange.

Isn't that a great look for the game? Also, what does that say about some of the coaches?

As NRL chief executive Todd Greenberg pointed out, when you make a change to force clubs into doing the right thing, a new problem generally ensues.

The only logical solution is independent doctors.

Clubs were given their chance to show a genuine duty of care to young men who still believe staying on the field after a serious head knock is a sign of toughness.

On that count, they have largely failed.

The Tiger Woods Book

It¹s 20 years since Tiger Woods took to the most famous golf course on the planet and tore it to pieces.

The brutality with which he went about his lifelong mission of winning the Masters almost defied belief.

A 21-year-old does not win the Masters by 12 shots, certainly not after he shot 40 on the front nine of his opening round and certainly not at his first attempt as a professional.

Tiger Woods had arrived. Golf changed forever.

Tomorrow, his new book Unprecedented hits the shops. It's Tiger's take on that victory, his life and a brief overview of how his life came crashing down in 2009.

I was cynical when the publishers fired me through a copy. We know Tiger is not exactly generous on the sharing front.

Initially, I was disappointed. But as I read on, I started to form a new appreciation of Woods and understand why this global sporting phenomenon often comes across as cold, thoughtless and, in his words, "entirely selfish".

What I found fascinating was the much talked about mental strength of Tiger. He and his father Earl had a code word.

If things went too far, Tiger just had to utter that word and Earl would stop. Never once did Tiger ask for mercy.

What I learnt this week is that Tiger Woods' life has never been what you'd call normal.

Not even close. He's a lone wolf in a world that just wanted more of him.

As Tiger sums it up, he's a hunter, driven by the thrill of competition; a cold-blooded sporting assassin.

- Herald on Sunday

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter

SIGN UP NOW
Stats provided by

© Copyright 2017, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production bpcf05 at 26 May 2017 11:21:19 Processing Time: 493ms