Simon Mannering celebrates with Manu Vatuvei during the Warriors' Round 6 win over the Tigers.

Mannering is the ultimate Warrior

On the eve of his 250th NRL Telstra Premiership match Simon Mannering did his best to politely deflect every question about his admirable feat, and avoid the individual praise coming his way.

It was hardly unexpected from the current Kiwis captain, a player who has spent his career remaining humble, with an insistence on putting the team before himself.

 


That is why he is so highly regarded by teammates and opponents alike, and why his story is perhaps best told through the words of those who work with him every day, rather than the man himself. 

Halfback Shaun Johnson labelled him as the consummate clubman, Solomone Kata said he is his role model, and to coach Andrew McFadden "the ultimate Warrior" and "one of the toughest ever".

"He will hate all this attention, he is a team man and it's all about the team," McFadden said of his milestone man ahead of Saturday's clash with the Titans at Mt Smart Stadium.

"I have met players that can give everything, but I haven't met players like Simon who can do it under a fair bit of duress.

"People won't even know what he has had to put up with in a game before. Certainly Simon, in terms of my coaching career, he is one of the toughest.

"He is obviously a wonderful player, a great clubman and 250 games this weekend is a great achievement."

Almost 11 years to the day since Mannering debuted for the Warriors against the Broncos on June 26, 2005, the workaholic back-rower will join club legend Stacey Jones as the only man to achieve 250 first-grade games for the club.

He now looks destined to eventually overtake Jones (who has 261 games) as the most-capped Warrior of all time, and with his current contract stretching until the end of the 2018 season, the magic 300 mark is also in reach.

Johnson said while Mannering probably won't utter another word about the occasion this week, his achievement will be in the thoughts of the rest of the squad and will serve as extra motivation.

"He is a person who doesn't want this mentioned, but as a playing group we respect him and hold him that high that it's going to have to drive us, and it will," Johnson said.

"He is doing something that only one other player in the club's history has done, so it's hard to ignore isn't it?

"It's pretty hard to go past him."

And while he relentlessly played down his own role in getting to 250 games, Mannering was quick to pay tribute to his family this week.

"It's more probably thanking people who have got you there," Mannering said.

"It's tipping your hat to them for what they have done for you along the way.

"I talked to my dad yesterday and he said he was going to be coming up [to the game], so it will be good to have some family up and spend some time with them.

"Those are the sort of people you thank at your milestones, who have played a part in getting you to where you are."

Mannering comes off one of his best performances of the season in last week's 19-18 golden point loss to Cronulla, where he made 67 tackles and carted the ball 11 times for 84 metres.