New Zealand captain Simon Mannering is standing down as skipper of the Warriors, saying the pressure of leadership stripped his love for the game.
Ryan Hoffman will take over as skipper but not before Mannering leads the Auckland-based NRL club for the last time in his home town of Nelson, when they play their final pre-season trial on Saturday against St George Illawarra.
The 29-year-old Mannering told his teammates of his decision on Wednesday, having informed coach Andrew McFadden and managing director Jim Doyle of his preference last month.
“That wasn’t easy because the players and the club mean so much to me but I’ve been thinking about this throughout the off-season,” he said.
“While it has been a massive honour being captain, I wasn’t enjoying my football and felt the responsibilities of the captaincy were a big factor in that.”
Industrious second-rower Mannering played the first of his 236 Warriors first grade games in 2005 and was appointed captain in 2010. He has led them for a record 136 games.
He led them to a grand final in 2011 but they have failed to reach the play-offs since.
Mannering revealed McFadden and Doyle asked him to reconsider his decision but decided it was important to the club that he concentrate on his primary duties.
“I thought it would be best for me and therefore best for the team if I was able to focus solely on my job as a player,” he said.
“To be honest, it’s a relief. It has taken a big weight off me.”
Hoffman, 32, is the club’s most experienced player with 263 NRL appearances. Just 18 of them have been for the Warriors, who he joined last year following 11 seasons with the Melbourne Storm.
Hoffman says the appointment is one of the biggest highlights of his career.
“It’s a huge honour and I’m totally humbled to be offered the job,” he said.
“It’s a brave decision Simon has made. He’s a terrific leader and player and I know he’ll still be there as usual doing everything he can to help the team.”