How Mannering grew into captaincy material

Simon Mannering is humble and softly spoken, so you won’t hear him talking up his own credentials after guiding the Warriors back into the finals this season in his very first year as captain.<br><br>But you sense that, somewhere deep down, the 24-year-old understands the magnitude of his achievements.<br><br>Controversially appointed captain at the start of the season in place of veteran Steve Price – who at that point was supposed to get himself back onto the field in early 2010 – he not only had to ride out the hysteria that followed the announcement but go about resurrecting a fallen club still reeling from the disasters of the previous 12 months.<br><br>Yet here we are in September and Mannering’s Warriors are looming as the finals dark horse after powering their way into the top eight with nine wins from their past 12 games.<br><br>“It’s very nice,” Mannering told NRL.com on the eve of Saturday night’s trek to the Gold Coast. “Last year was very disappointing for us but we’ve given ourselves a chance to be here this September, so I’m very excited to be taking part in it.”<br><br>Mannering, though, is quick to downplay his own role in uniting this once troubled side, insisting instead that it was simply a case of steadying the ship.<br><br>“I guess we had success before last year in 2007 and 2008 so to me it feels now like we’ve just come back to that,” he said. <br><br>“It’s not about me turning it around from last year, more that we’ve just really enjoyed this year as a team and enjoyed our footy. <br><br>“It seems to be working and the back half of the year we’ve strung together some good consistency in our game.”<br><br>Mannering was as shocked as anyone when the call came from coach Ivan Cleary late last year that he would be replacing Price as captain.<br><br>While he has always been viewed by those at the club as a future leader, the fact that he is 12 years Price’s junior raised the obvious questions that 2010 might just be a few years too early for the Kiwi Test back-rower.<br><br>Mannering has had help, though – his elevation sparking a newfound sense of maturity in those team-mates with whom he rose through the junior ranks.<br><br>“On the field you have a new role in the team but there are a number of guys in the side that have been enormous for us and have really brought the team along,” he said. <br><br>“There are guys in the side that have been around a lot longer than me that have helped out the team.<br><br>“But you look at Manu (Vatuvei) and Jerome (Ropati) and Sam Rapira and they’ve helped a lot this year.<br><br>“Even guys like Russell Packer and Ben Matulino have had a couple of years under their belt and this year have taken it up another level. They’ve been really good for us.”<br><br>“And obviously I’ve learnt quite a bit in the last eight months or so as well. I’m definitely enjoying it now… the more you do, the more comfortable you get with it.<br><br>“I was surprised to be given the job but it’s a huge honour after someone like Steven had it before. I’m just really enjoying my time playing alongside the guys. It’s been a challenge and one that I’ve really enjoyed.”<br><br>The Warriors face a red-hot Titans side at Skilled Stadium this weekend with a win earning them a home semi-final at Mt Smart Stadium in Week Two.<br><br>And Mannering said there was no reason why they couldn’t go all the way. “We’ve given ourselves a chance to be there at the end,” he said. <br><br>“We’ll just be taking each week as it comes and that’s Friday night against the Titans. <br><br>“It doesn’t get any easier for us but it’s a really open comp this year and everyone that has made it this far will give themselves a chance of going all the way.”<br>