Simon Mannering’s playing career is over but the 301-game veteran would like to remain involved with the Warriors to help the club’s next crop of stars fulfill their potential after returning to NRL finals for the first time in seven years.
Mannering bowed out in Saturday night’s 27-12 loss to Penrith and, while it wasn’t the ending he had hoped for, the former Warriors and Kiwis captain believes the team can benefit from the experience.
“I know our guys will be better for it, with a bit of experience in the finals footy,” Mannering said. “A lot of them have never played finals before so hopefully this is something they can build on moving forward.
“Some of them had the best seasons of their career and that is something they can build on. Some clubs are in the finals every year and you see the experiences they get and when they get to these big games they handle it really well. It will be good for our group, as long as we learn from it.”
While Mannering said he planned on taking a break before deciding the next phase of his life, the 32-year-old second rower said he would be keen to take on a mentoring role with younger players like 19-year-old back rower Isiah Papali’i.
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“Footy has given me so much and I was lucky to have some really good mentors early in my career so it would be really selfish if I didn’t try to pass on what I have learned and help out some kids if I can,” he said
“A lot of our guys have had the best season of their careers, a lot of them are still really young so we have probably only scratched the surface with a lot of them. There is a lot of potential there.”
Warriors hooker Issac Luke said team-mates were disappointed they had been unable to extend Mannering’s but he also believes the Warriors will benefit from the finals experience.
Luke is off contract and yet to decide his future but he made it clear he wanted to remain at the Warriors if a deal could be negotiated for 2019.
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“There’s a lot of things we can take out of that game that we didn’t get right but from the season’s perspective we were happy with how we finished,” Luke said.
“It’s been a long time since the club has been in this position so we can take a lot of confidence out of that. It was a bit unlucky that we weren’t able to give Simon a great sending off but he is happy with how far we have come as a team and as a club.”
Despite finishing eighth, Mannering said 2018 had been one of the most successful seasons in the Warriors history and he pointed out that the Stephen Kearney-coached side had enjoyed just one win less than Telstra Premiership minor premiers, Sydney Roosters,
“With the run we have had the past six seasons, my goal was to try and help Stephen get back into the play-offs,” Mannering said. “
“I wasn’t really ready to finish our season yet but I am proud of the guys to finish two points away from the top of the table. It was a real tight comp this year, probably the tightest that’s ever been, and we had 15 wins this year, which is more than we have had in previous years.”