Captain Simon Mannering’s ‘200-100’ milestones will highlight the Vodafone Warriors’ ‘Return to Mount Smart’ when they face the Newcastle Knights on Sunday (4.00pm kick-off; match day sponsor: Canterbury of New Zealand).
The first match of the season at Mount Smart Stadium fittingly doubles as a celebration of Mannering reaching the twin landmarks of 200 appearances and 100 games as captain in what is his 10th season in the NRL and also the club’s 20th in existence.
It was at Mount Smart Stadium where an 18-year-old Mannering made his NRL debut against Brisbane in 2005 and where he also had his first outing as the club’s youngest captain in history (only 23) against Cronulla in 2010. On both occasions the Vodafone Warriors won.
On Sunday he becomes just the second player after Stacey Jones (261 games) to appear in 200 NRL matches for the Vodafone Warriors and the first to captain the side 100 times, having claimed the record from the great Steve Price in his 92nd game in charge in the 42-18 win over Wests Tigers at Westpac Stadium on March 29.
“It’s an enormous achievement for Simon to reach these milestones and it’s even more special that they should both happen in the same match and especially at Mount Smart,” said Vodafone Warriors head coach Andrew McFadden.
“While it’s not his style to make a fuss, these feats are hugely significant for his team-mates, staff and everyone associated with the club.
“Simon is one of the most selfless players around and deserves a massive crowd of members and fans to acknowledge him of Sunday.”
Still only 27, Mannering is also the veteran of 36 Test appearances for the Kiwis since 2006; he was handed the ultimate honour of captaining his country last year.
Recently re-signed on a four-year deal to the end of the 2018 season, Mannering is poised to overtake Jones’ record of most appearances for the club and also has the chance to become the Vodafone Warriors’ first 300-game player.
He is also one of the most prolific try-scoring forwards in the game after snaring his 45th career touchdown in last Saturday night’s 24-16 win over Gold Coast.
The only three-time winner of the club’s Lion Red NRL Player of the Year Award, Mannering had another outstanding all-round performance against the Titans with 130 metres from 13 runs, 33 tackles with just one miss and his critical try just after halftime.
While the Napier-born, Nelson-raised back rower doesn’t take great heed of his milestone moments, friends and foes alike hold him in the highest regard.
As well as tributes from his own team-mates published on www.warriors.co.nz more will feature during the week from an array of celebrities, other sporting stars, former Vodafone Warriors team-mates and current and former Kiwis.