Record-holding Vodafone Warriors stalwart Simon Mannering has today announced the 2018 NRL campaign will mark the end of his 14-season career with the club.
The 31-year-old’s decision follows his announcement five weeks ago that he had retired from international football after 45 Tests for the Kiwis from 2006-2017.
Nelson-raised Mannering said he had wrestled with his decision for several weeks.
“It has taken a while to reach this point but I’m now comfortable with the decision I’ve finally made,” he said.
“It hasn’t been easy that’s for sure. There has been a lot to think about. I’ve really enjoyed this season and that was one of the factors that was playing on my mind.
“I’m really grateful to the Vodafone Warriors for giving me the time I needed. It’s a big call when you consider retirement, even more so having played my whole career for this great club.
“It’s not over yet, though. There are still a lot of games to be played and I want to do all I can to help the team and the coaching staff in our bid to finish this season as well as we possibly can.”
Mannering was 18 when he made his Vodafone Warriors debut off the bench in the 30-18 10th anniversary clash against Brisbane at Mount Smart Stadium on June 26, 2005.
On Sunday he’ll make his 294th appearance when the club marks its Michael Moore Trophy match against Melbourne with “The Greatest Vodafone Warriors Charity Day”. It leaves him on track to become the first player to make 300 appearances for the club and only the second New Zealander to join the 300-club after former Canberra and Vodafone Warriors great Ruben Wiki.
Vodafone Warriors head coach Stephen Kearney said Mannering’s decision marked a sad day for the club.
“I’d love Simon to play on forever but sadly the time comes when players have to make the call to finish,” he said.
“I know how difficult this would have been for him. He loves playing footy and he loves this club so it’s a really significant day for him and for all of us.
“Being the type of person he is Simon doesn’t want any fuss made about it. That’s not his style but he deserves all the accolades and attention he’ll receive.”
Vodafone Warriors CEO Cameron George paid tribute to Mannering for his contribution to the club.
“It’s difficult to put into words just how much Simon has done for the Vodafone Warriors on and off the field and what he means to us and to members and fans alike,” he said.
“Above all he’s a champion player and a champion person who epitomises what a Vodafone Warrior is all about.
“It’s a tough day for all of us knowing this will be Simon’s last season, more so because of the loyalty he has shown by being one of that select group of players who have been with just one club their whole career.
“This Sunday gives everyone a great opportunity to be at Mount Smart Stadium to show their appreciation for Simon.”
While Mannering is not a man for stats, the numbers emphasise the magnitude of his efforts across 14 seasons. He has been on the field almost 22,000 minutes – or close to 370 hours – while carrying the ball more than 27,000 metres (an average of 95 metres a game) and making more than 9300 tackles (an average of about 32 tackles a game).