Mannering to be monitored by Kiwis
New Zealand coach Steve Kearney will await advice from a specialist before making a decision on whether Simon Mannering will be fit to lead the Kiwis in the mid-year Test against the Kanagroos in Newcastle next Friday night.
On the back of a season-ending knee injury to Roger Tuivasa-Sheck and Tuimoala Lolohea suffering a medial ligament strain, Kearney's heart must have sank when he saw his captain-elect leaving the field cradling his blood-filled mouth in the Warriors' 42-0 drubbing at the hands of the Storm on Monday night.
The graphic pictures suggested Mannering had suffered a badly broken jaw early in the second half but it was soon diagnosed as a severe facial cut that was going to be assessed by a specialist upon his return to Auckland.
The veteran of 41 Tests has not been named to play for the Warriors this weekend but Kearney said he would be prepared to wait right up until he names the Kiwi team on Sunday before ruling Mannering out of contention.
"Until we get the information back from the specialist then that will give us some clarity on the situation and how serious it is and we'll make the call from there," Kearney said.
"If it needs to be Sunday then I'm happy to wait until Sunday but I'm sure that will become a lot clearer once he sees the specialist.
"If Simon is unavailable that's probably a position where we have got a fair bit of depth so whoever we do get to fill if Simon's not available for his spot I'm super confident they'll do a great job for us."
Speaking hours after Mal Meninga named the first Kangaroos team under his tutelage Kearney gave little away in terms of the possible make-up of his side, although he did hint that Peta Hiku was the front-runner ahead of Jordan Kahu for the fullback position.
If Mannering is unable to play contenders for the captaincy include Kieran Foran, Jesse Bromwich and the two co-captains from last year's tour of England, Adam Blair and Issac Luke.
Notwithstanding any more injury disasters next Friday's Test will also provide Kearney with the opportunity to reunite Foran and Shaun Johnson in the halves, the combination that guided New Zealand to their convincing 26-12 win 12 months ago in Brisbane.
"They're two quality players. When they're both playing at their best their world class so that's handy for any team to have important players in those positions and the class and talent that they both have," he said.
"At the moment they're ticking along pretty well in terms of their health so we'll just have to get through this weekend's games to see how it all pans out."