Simon Mannering is having a fuss made of him all over again this week – and he’s as typically reluctant as ever about the full glare of the sporting spotlight being trained on him.
There’s not a lot he can do about, though.
His rugby league career keeps keeping on, surging inexorably from one achievement to another and with it one celebration after another. All of them richly deserved, too, for the machine-like Mannering is certainly one of a kind.
This week the focus is on his 250th NRL appearance when he faces the Gold Coast in the Vodafone Warriors’ 17th-round match at Mount Smart Stadium on Saturday (5.00pm kick-off; match day sponsor: TNT).
The build-up to the big moment was marked with a special lunch today, former Vodafone Warriors team-mate Francis Meli presenting Mannering with his specially-embroidered jersey for the match. Meli recounted the days when he put up a then 17-year-old Mannering in his house when he arrived in Auckland from Wellington.
Those present at the lunch included Mannering's partner Anna and their sons Zeke and Jack plus the NRL squad, football department and office staff and the Vodafone Warriors' 19th man Sir Peter Leitch. There was a special video message from Mannering's brother Marcus, an inspiring highlights video and also a message from the Minister for Sport and Recreation.
This will be the fourth time on end that Mannering has been able to mark key milestones at home.
On June 1, 2014, there was much ado, as there should have been, when the man from Motueka ran out onto Mount Smart Stadium for his 200th NRL game and his 100th as captain.
It was a wonderful occasion with team-mates, ex-team-mates, coaches, opponents and celebrities alike sending their tributes. It was the ultimate illustration of the high regard in which he is held.
The night ended in a resounding 38-18 victory, Mannering providing two first half tries in a performance which will always live in the memory.
His 150th appearance – and 50th as captain – was against Gold Coast at Mount Smart on March 24, 2012, an event also celebrated with a win (Mannering scoring a try in a 26-6 success).
Game No 100 in the final round of the 2009 season wasn’t rewarding as the Vodafone Warriors finished a challenging year with a heavy loss to Melbourne at Mount Smart.
Playing 250 games in the NRL is an impressive feat, more so for a player who does so for just one club and especially when he endures the workload and punishment Mannering does.
This week Mannering joins a list of only 30 players since 1908 who have reached the 250-game mark while representing just one club during their careers.
After ending his Vodafone Warriors captaincy career with a club record 136 appearances he now revels in being a player only, his performances at the same high level he has demanded of himself throughout his career.
Across 12 first-grade seasons Mannering has embodied the qualities the Vodafone Warriors stand for in becoming one of the game’s most consistent and durable players combining matchless levels of selflessness, commitment, effort and dedication.