Mannering leads Kiwis to golden age

It was almost enough to warrant a smile from poker-faced New Zealand captain Simon Mannering – almost.

Yet Mannering insisted the Kiwis would savour their historic 26-12 trans-Tasman Test win over Australia in Brisbane on Sunday night.

Mannering looked like someone who still needed to be convinced that New Zealand had emerged triumphant in the one-off Test at Suncorp Stadium.

And no wonder – the Kiwis were only celebrating victory in a mid-year trans-Tasman Test for the first time since 1998.

It also marked the first time New Zealand had inflicted three straight losses on Australia since 1953.

Still, Mannering gave little away in the post-match press conference as their passionate Kiwi fans went into party mode outside.

“I will show a lot of emotion once I get out of this room and have a few beers under my belt,” a stoic Mannering said.

Man of the match Manu Vatuvei tried to give an insight into the man who looked set to steer New Zealand through their next golden age of rugby league.

“He’s a great leader. Every time he gets out there he plays his heart out,” said hulking winger Vatuvei, who helped New Zealand grab a 26-6 halftime lead by nabbing two tries in eight minutes.

“Whenever we are down he is the one bringing us back up.

“When he speaks, everyone listens. He is the leader, the one lifting us up.”

Asked if the mild mannered Mannering had a wild side, Vatuvei wickedly flashed his gold tooth and said: “I can’t say too much.”

But Vatuvei believed no one could question Mannering’s leadership after New Zealand showed their 2014 Four Nations success was no fluke.

“It’s massive. To be beat Australia three times in a row is something special,” he said.

New Zealand are guaranteed the No.1 ranking, leapfrogging Australia, if they down England in an end-of-year three-Test series.

Yet Mannering still tried to play down their Brisbane win in a Test that had been postponed since Friday night when torrential rain lashed Suncorp Stadium.

“It was nice to be able to get the win and clear that record but we still see Australia as the benchmark,” Mannering said.

“They have been very consistent over a long time.

“For us it is about building something.

“We feel as a group we have a long way to go.”

However, Kiwi coach Stephen Kearney liked what he saw from a team that was still to welcome back the likes of Jason Taumalolo, Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, Alex Glenn and Dallin Watene-Zelezniak.

“I know there a lot of disappointed players who missed out but this makes them very hungry to get a jumper – that’s a real positive,” he said.

“It has taken us 17 years to win this Test match.

“I know they (Australia) will be hungrier when they come back in 12 months’ time.

“But our guys now know what they have to bring to the table.”

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