Man­ner­ing mile­stone comes sec­ond

Warwick Daily News - - SPORT - LEAGUE -

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.”

Photo: AAP

300 UP: The War­riors’ Simon Man­ner­ing.

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