A fading desire and a fear of letting his teammates down helped Simon Mannering come to one of the hardest decisions of his life.

The 31-year-old Warriors icon admitted it had taken 10 months to decide he would draw the curtain on an illustrious NRL playing career, but still appeared to be convincing himself today when he said: "I will retire at the end of the year."

After making his debut off the bench as an 18-year-old against the Broncos at Mt Smart in 2005, the former Warriors captain will make his 294th club appearance in Sunday's home game against reigning premiers Melbourne.

All going well, the champion back-rower will become the first player to reach the triple century for the Penrose-based club in their final-round match against Canberra in Auckland on August 31.


And if there's any justice in the world, he'll add a couple more games to that tally during the final series and long-suffering supporters will hope he can go out on top as a winner of the club's first elusive premiership.

Simon Mannering is calling it a career at the end of this NRL season. Photo / Photosport
Simon Mannering is calling it a career at the end of this NRL season. Photo / Photosport

"I wish I could keep playing and if I could just turn up and play each weekend then I'd love to carry on and do that but that's not the case," Mannering admitted today.

"Everyone sees the game on the weekend but it takes a lot of stuff behind the scenes to get you ready to play and deep down I know I don't have that level of commitment to carry that on for another year.

"I don't want to go in half-hearted to another season. It wouldn't be fair on my teammates or the club. It's a big commitment and just feel I've probably lost a little bit of that spark."

Mannering first broke the news to the club's senior leadership group at their weekly Monday morning meeting before telling the rest of the team.

He explained he hadn't been feeling his usual self over the past month. Training was becoming a chore and even the sweet taste of victory had lost some of its flavour.

"I still really love playing and love being a part of this club and the team but training sucks," he said with a laugh. "I just haven't felt the same. I'm always invested in how the game goes and the performance, but once we got that win the satisfaction wasn't what it used to be.

"I don't want to be in this position and taking it for granted. I don't think I'd be doing it justice if I wasn't getting that satisfaction out of it.


"I've given it a good crack and I've had my time. I'm excited to see some young guys come through and really grow as players."

Mannering is reluctant to make comparisons but you get the impression he arrived at his decision having seen people question whether retiring Cowboys captain Johnathan Thurston has gone on too long.

"I don't want to single anyone out. But I'd rather finish playing thinking I could have done one more year and have people say 'I wish he had kept playing' than going 'mate, you should have retired ages ago'."

Although Thurston and Storm skipper Cameron Smith cashed in with a joint-testimonial at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane dubbed "A Night with Cam and JT", that isn't Mannering's style.

"No, mate, I'm content. The game's given me so much. After today or this week I just want to focus on the team. I don't want to drag anything out and have it about me.

"We're in a good position where we can push forward and I want the focus to be on that and the boys to be focused on that.

"That would be the best testimonial. If we could get this team going somewhere where our club and fans could be proud of I'd be super happy with that."