Veteran Vodafone Warriors back rower Simon Mannering has today announced his retirement from international rugby league, ruling him out of contention for the Kiwis’ one-off Test against England at the Mile High Stadium in Denver on Saturday, June 23.
After representing the Kiwis in 45 Tests since his 2006 debut, the 31-year-old said the time was right to step aside.
“Going into the World Cup last year I sort of had it in the back of my mind that it would be my last campaign playing for the Kiwis,” he said.
“It still doesn’t make it an easy decision to make it official even though my days of being selected in the team are getting behind me.
“The idea of taking a Test to the United States is great for the game and it’s exciting for younger players to be given an opportunity that I wish had been around when I started.
“I was honoured to wear the Kiwi jersey every time and it’s been a huge privilege having the chance to play alongside so many outstanding players. It was also a special honour to captain my country.
“There have been so many great memories along the way like being involved in the World Cup win in 2008 and also the Four Nations victories in 2010 and 2014 but now I want to be able to focus on the Vodafone Warriors who have supported me throughout.”
Mannering finishes with 45 Tests, fourth-equal on the Kiwis’ all-time list with Stephen Kearney and Adam Blair behind Ruben Wiki (55) and Stacey Jones and Gary Freeman both on 46.
Vodafone Warriors head coach Stephen Kearney said Mannering had again underlined his selfless attitude with his decision.
“Simon is such a wonderful player and person and he’s had an outstanding career with the Kiwis,” he said.
“This decision emphasises once again how he always puts others before himself.
“I’ve had the pleasure of working alongside him with the Kiwis and now at the club and he’s just tremendous in what he brings to every team he’s involved in.”
Making his NRL debut as an 18-year-old in 2005, Mannering is set to play his 290th game when the Vodafone Warriors play North Queensland on Friday night leaving him on track to become the first player to appear in 300 NRL games for the club.
He started his Test career against the Kangaroos in the 2006 Tri Nations while his 45th match was the quarter-final loss to Fiji Bati in Wellington at last year’s Rugby League World Cup.
Mannering was in the centres when the Kiwis beat Australia 34-20 in Brisbane to win the World Cup for the first time in history in 2008 and was again in the centres in the 16-12 Four Nations final win against the Kangaroos at Suncorp Stadium in 2010.
In 2014 he captained New Zealand to a 22-18 victory over Australia in the Four Nations final at Westpac Stadium in Wellington.