Vet­eran in top shape for Cup

Sunday Star-Times - - SPORT - DAVID LONG

Si­mon Man­ner­ing has ended the NRL sea­son in the best shape he’s been in for years and is ready to give his all for the Ki­wis at the World Cup.

For the past few years the 31-year-old Man­ner­ing has bat­tled in­juries and ill­ness at the back end of War­riors cam­paigns and it led to him miss­ing the Ki­wis’ tour to Eng­land in 2015 and last year’s Four Na­tions.

How­ever, Man­ner­ing says he’s good to go for the World Cup.

‘‘On the back of pre­vi­ous years, I’m ob­vi­ously older now, but I do feel bet­ter,’’ Man­ner­ing said.

‘‘The club has been good to me this year with my load­ing through the weeks.

‘‘They’ve looked af­ter me well and I’m feel­ing it now. I think I can re­ally con­trib­ute for the Ki­wis if I get a chance to play for them.’’

It’s laugh­able even to sug­gest Man­ner­ing won’t be in the Ki­wis’ 24-man squad for the World Cup.

Re­gard­less of any­thing else, if New Zealand Rugby League wants to have pub­lic sup­port through the tour­na­ment, the last thing it should do is drop the coun­try’s most pop­u­lar league player.

There are 33 days to go be­fore the Ki­wis play their first game at the World Cup, against Samoa at Mt Smart Sta­dium.

For some who’ll be in the squad, there’s next week­end’s NRL grand fi­nal to get through first, but for Man­ner­ing prepa­ra­tions start in earnest this week.

‘‘On Mon­day we start the trainon squad and once the grand fi­nal is done they’ll fi­nalise the squad of 24 for the tour­na­ment,’’ Man­ner­ing said.

‘‘Ob­vi­ously, I’d love to be a part of the Ki­wis squad for a World Cup that will be mostly in New Zealand for us.

‘‘Ev­ery ex­pe­ri­ence I’ve had with the Ki­wis has been awe­some,’’ he added.

‘‘It’s al­ways a new from the NRL clubs, War­riors.

‘‘It’s re­ally re­fresh­ing and even when it’s the An­zac test, I en­joy the week be­cause it is so re­fresh­ing and en­joy­able and I’m sure the World Cup will be no dif­fer­ent.’’

Since the War­riors fin­ished their sea­son, Man­ner­ing spent time in Nel­son vis­it­ing fam­ily and he took the op­por­tu­nity to take a break be­fore the Ki­wis’ cam­paign be­gins.

He spent the time think­ing ahead to the Ki­wis, rather than dwelling on the War­riors’ dis­ap­point­ing cam­paign.

‘‘We did our re­view the week af­ter the sea­son, if it was a bet­ter sea­son I’d prob­a­bly be think­ing about it more,’’ Man­ner­ing said.

‘‘But the best thing for my­self to put it to one side.

‘‘We’ve said our piece in the re­view and the best thing now is to move for­ward.’’ en­vi­ron­ment not just the is

Ki­wis vet­eran Si­mon Man­ner­ing.

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