Mannering wary of disrupting Warriors momentum
Simon Mannering has been an 80-minute player and a mainstay of the Warriors team for several years but the veteran forward modestly admits he's wary of disrupting the unbeaten side's rhythm.
Mannering will make his first appearance for the 2018 Telstra Premiership on Saturday when he comes off the bench for the Warriors against the Cowboys.
With the Auckland-based side riding high after an impressive win over competition heavyweights Sydney Roosters, his comeback from a shoulder injury complements the return of Shaun Johnson (groin) and Sam Lisone (suspension).
Mannering, who has played 280 NRL games, will be one shy of the 300-game milestone if he plays every match for the rest of the regular season, so his only chance of hitting the triple century this year depends on whether the Warriors break their playoff drought which stretches back to 2011.
He is excited to get back onto the field, but wary of not "overdoing it".
"I hope I don't break that flow and stuff it up, to be honest," Mannering said.
"Nah look, I've missed it that's for sure. I've missed that feeling in sheds, having a few quiets and singing the song and that.
"It's made sitting on the sidelines a lot easier however the way the boys have been going. They haven't been perfect performances by any stretch but I'm really proud of the way the lads have been going."
Warriors coach Stephen Kearney said although he anticipated the former club captain would reclaim a starting berth soon, he wouldn't say whether or not it would be in his first game back.
But that's all good with the man himself, desperate to simply get "some sort of footy" under his belt.
"Where exactly I play, that's a decision for Stephen," Mannering said.
"The team is going good and in a really good flow so I don't want to disrupt that for the sake of starting so I'm just keen to get out there and hopefully be a part of a good performance on Saturday."
Coming into an unbeaten side and facing last year's grand finalists first up might sound daunting to some, but not the Warriors' most-capped player, Kearney said.
"Simon is a tough cookie, he lives for these situations," he said.
"He's rock solid and it does the lads a world of good to have him out on the field with them. When he was ruled out at the start of this season I know everyone was really disappointed for him but to get him back is a big boost for the group."
The Warriors will play the Cowboys in the feature match of Saturday's double-header from Mt Smart, following the Melbourne Storm's clash with the Wests Tigers.