Mannering milestone comes second
FORGET about entertaining a sell-out crowd at Auckland’s Mt Smart Stadium, or marking Simon Mannering’s NRL triple century with a flourish.
The finals are coming so Adam Blair wants his Warriors to grind it out when they host the free-wheeling Canberra Raiders tonight.
The final regular-season game will draw a capacity 25,600 crowd to quite possibly farewell retiring Kiwi great Mannering, who will become the first player to raise 300 NRL games for the Auckland club.
A giant mural of the secondrower is prominent at Mt Smart, and the in-goal area carries a “Mannering 300” message.
Teammates and coaches are growing beards and the tributes have gushed, but Blair goes back a long way with fellow pack workhorse Mannering and knows how uncomfortable the 32-year-old will be in the spotlight.
Putting emotion to one side for 80 minutes will be vital if the eighth-placed Warriors are to notch win No.15 this season and give themselves a crack at a home play-off match a week later.
“Obviously the focus is going to be around Simon but we need to have clear focus on what are jobs are for this Raiders team,” Blair said.
“We probably want to get them into a grind, play a tough style of footy that’s most probably going to be September-style footy anyway.”
300 UP: The Warriors’ Simon Mannering.