In the end, Simon Mannering did it his way.

Yesterday's retirement announcement summed up the selfless approach of the Kiwis veteran, in a career where he has been renowned for his team first approach.

It didn't feel right that one of the legends of New Zealand league gave his farewell speech on a drizzly cold day at Mt Smart, outside in a windswept temporary marquee.

It also felt wrong that his last outing in the Kiwis jersey was the 4-2 loss to Fiji in the 2017 World Cup quarter final, one of the most forgettable moments in New Zealand league history.


Given his standing in the game – in modern terms he is probably the Richie McCaw of league - he would have been entitled to take on the upcoming Denver adventure, or feature in the Kangaroos test in October in Auckland, where he could be feted with speeches and have a farewell in front of thousands at either Mt Smart or Eden Park.

But the 31-year-old doesn't want to play on for the wrong reasons, and said family was also a big factor. Mannering had planned for the World Cup to be his swansong, though sitting in the Wellington Stadium dressing room after the shock Fiji loss had left him numb.

"After the game I didn't feel was a bit of a fizzer," said Mannering. "But I had so many more good memories before that. It would be selfish of me to keep playing to try to finish on a better note."

Mannering will be remembered as one of the greats. He finishes on 45 tests, equal with Adam Blair and Stephen Kearney and only behind Ruben Wiki (55), Stacey Jones and Gary Freeman (46).

Mannering probably should have cracked the half century, and got close to Wiki, but circumstances conspired against him in recent years.

He missed the 2015 tour to England due to illness – he was physically drained after the toll of leading the Warriors in that tumultuous campaign – and then coach David Kidwell opted to leave him at home for the 2016 Four Nations tour, a costly decision given how that tournament unfolded.

Mannering didn't always capture the headlines, but he was a special player. It's no coincidence that his career encompassed some of the biggest moments in Kiwis history, including the 2008 World Cup triumph and Four Nations titles in 2010 and 2014, the latter of which featured memorable back to back wins over the Kangaroos.

He said yesterday his best memory was his first campaign in 2006, when, after just 24 NRL games, he was part of a Tri Nations series that doubled as the farewell for Jones, Ruben Wiki and Nigel Vagana, who had been his heroes..


Mannering made an instant impact on debut, Playing at lock against the Kangaroos at Mt Smart, the 20-year-old had already made a ton of tackles, when just before halftime Mark Gasnier intercepted a Stacey Jones pass metres from the Australian line. The lightning quick Gasnier roared off, with most of the Kiwis set on their heels. But Mannering never gave up the chase, racing 85 metres in a vain attempt to reel in Gasnier, and at least forced him to the corner. It was an enduring memory of that match, and become that never-say-die spirit became symbolic of Mannering's career.

For local league fans, there could be a silver lining from yesterday's decision, as it probably increases the chances of Mannering playing on into 2019 with the Warriors.

Mannering admitted yesterday the move could theoretically prolong his club career, but he hadn't made a final decision.