Simon Mannering will lead the Vodafone Warriors for the last time in his home town Nelson after today announcing he is standing down following six seasons as the club’s captain.
First appointed for the 2010 NRL campaign, the 29-year-old 236-game veteran said he had indicated to head coach Andrew McFadden last month that he wished to move aside to fully focus on his contribution as a player.
Mannering told his team-mates of his decision today.
“That wasn’t easy because the players and the club mean so much to me but I’ve been thinking about this throughout the offseason,” he said.
“While it has been a massive honour being captain, I wasn’t enjoying my football and felt the responsibilities of the captaincy were a big factor in that.
“I told Cappy and (managing director) Jim (Doyle) that I thought it would be best for me and therefore best for the team if I was able to focus solely on my job as a player.
“They asked me to reconsider but my mind was made up and, to be honest, it’s a relief. It has taken a big weight off me.”
After leading the Vodafone Warriors a record 136 times, Mannering’s captaincy farewell coincides with his first-ever game for the club in Nelson in Saturday’s Mike Pero ‘Battle of Trafalgar’ against St George Illawarra (5.00pm kick-off).
“Our preference was for Simon to continue as our captain again this season,” said McFadden.
“This is all about Simon, though. We totally respect this decision. After playing 236 games for the club, being our captain for six seasons and our player of the year four times, he has earned the right to make this call.”
McFadden confirmed 32-year-old Ryan Hoffman, the club’s most experienced player with 263 NRL appearances, as the new captain.
“He is an obvious replacement for Simon, a natural leader who brings all the qualities we want, one who plays for 80 minutes, is durable and has a fiercely competitive attitude,” he said.
“He has the respect and support of the players.”
Hoffman, who joined the Vodafone Warriors from Melbourne last season, said being made the club’s captain was one the biggest highlights of his career.
“It’s a huge honour and I’m totally humbled to be offered the job,” he said.
“It's a brave decision Simon has made. He’s a terrific leader and player and I know he’ll still be there as usual doing everything he can to help the team.”
McFadden encouraged the public to give Mannering a memorable homecoming when he leads the Vodafone Warriors for the last time on Saturday.
“He’s a great player and a great leader, the ultimate case of a captain who leads by example,” he said.
“We’re looking forward to the people from the Nelson region giving one of their favourite sons a really special welcome. He certainly deserves it.”
The Vodafone Warriors arrive in Nelson on Thursday for their second and final trial before beginning the NRL season against Wests Tigers on Saturday, March 5.