Dylan Cleaver's Midweek Fixture
Simon Mannering will play his 300th game for the Warriors at Mt Smart Stadium on Friday. It could, depending on results, be the last time he plays at his home ground.
The club, smartly, have priced the match to ensure there is a big crowd to see him off. That would be fitting.
I can't make it. That is also fitting.
Call it a blind spot, call it a failure of logic, but I have never been seduced by Mannering's considerable charms.
Thankfully I have always had plenty of smarter, more passionate leaguies around me to tell me the ways that I'm wrong.
Steve Deane springs to mind. The one-time Herald league reporter who can now be found on Newsroom has never owned an opinion he has been afraid of loudly voicing. His contempt for anybody who suggested Mannering may have had a quiet game was palpable, his disdain incontestable.
Even when I rung him today to discuss, he said without prompting: "F*** me, here we go."
David Skipwith has continued the masthead's fine league-writing lineage. He too, has attempted to proselytise me to the church of Mannering.
"He embodies everything the club should be and aspires to be. It's his professionalism, his unwavering loyalty to the club. Yes, he's a straight up-and-down player, he's tough and resilient, but there's more to him than that.
"I don't know if that makes you an idiot for not recognising that – maybe just ignorant."
Then there's my father, who has spent most of his adult life counting in multiples of six. He would chisel Mannering's likeness on any Mt Rushmore of New Zealand league.
He's probably not angry that I push back on this suggestion, just disappointed.
I can't say exactly what it is about Mannering that has failed to ignite my fire.
Perhaps it is because league's increasing regimentation began to bother me around about the time Mannering was becoming part of the Penrose furniture. Maybe I've marked Mannering down because he always does the right bloody thing at the right time.
Granted, it's not a great justification, but it's the only one I've got. If this is true, then my contrarianism is a black mark on me, not Mannering.
If you are of a certain vintage you might recall that comedy rock duo Tenacious D once hitchhiked down a long and lonesome road, when appeared a shiny demon. He said: "Play the best song in the world, or I'll eat your souls."
The devil was cast aside when they played the first song that came into their heads. It might not have been the best song in the world, but it was a tribute.
As Mannering's yeoman career winds down there will be thousands of wonderful, heartfelt stories written about him. This won't be the best one that you'll read, but it is the first thing that came into my head…
And it is a tribute.
On Monday I argued that Steve Hansen and Tew's brazen strong-arming of PM Jacinda Ardern and finance and sports minister Grant Robertson was both wrong-headed and politically awkward.
Still, it did have the result of getting some pretty funny comments coming my way. Some of my faves were:
"If Hansen was JFK's speechwriter it would have gone – 'Now look here you jokers, ask not what you can do for your country but what your country can do for you'."
"If the ABs had been charging the National Party for the political capital Key was making out of his bestie, Richie, they wouldn't need any public funding!"
And, on a similar theme…
"Ten years of beersies and backslapping with Key and nothing said. One visit from Ardern and it's 'What are you going to do for us?' "
Others pointed out the contributions the taxpayer makes to NZ Rugby via Sky subscriptions, merchandise and ticket sales. Some mentioned the tax breaks the national body gets.
Someone else noted the extraordinary existing cost to the public due to rugby's annual ACC bill.
All told, it was bit of a pile-on.
Even if NZ Rugby's concerns are valid, even if the discussion is ultimately important, the optics have been poor.
THE WEEK IN MEDIA ...
I have a long-time colleague who is a Queens Park Rangers fan, which usually means a life of reality never matching hope, or even expectation. Once a symbol of Swingin' Sixties West London chic, QPR now sit fourth on that area's totem pole below Chelsea, Fulham and, snigger, Brentford. Still, this exiled Londoners ties still bind, so he excitedly sent me this story, which is really quite nice, even if it ends, like most of QPR's seasons, with a whimper.
That curious little story is by no means the oddest involving QPR and correspondence. This one here, from QPR fansite Independent R's, referencing a Daily Mirror story from 1948, takes the biscuit.
Might as well make it a QPR trifecta of sorts. Netflix is a treasure trove of great TV and while I wouldn't put The Mavericks into that category, not by a long shot, the first episode is entertaining and involves more than one QPR player.