Simon Mannering has cited loss of enjoyment – and form – coupled with the pressures of leadership, for his surprise decision to relinquish the Warriors’ NRL captaincy.
Mannering is standing down after six seasons as skipper, saying that concentrating on football will freshen him up, without the added duties of being captain.
He will lead the Warriors for one last time in their final trial against St George-Illawarra in Nelson on Saturday, before fellow back-rower Ryan Hoffman takes over.
Mannering, 29, says he mulled over the captaincy for a few months, speaking to coach Andrew McFadden late last year about what was best for the team and himself.
“I’m pretty happy with it now and looking forward to getting on with it, moving forward as a group and supporting Ryan.
“I’m hoping that it freshens me a bit – less commitment outside of footy, more time with my family.”
Mannering said the weight of the captaincy took its toll last year, when the Warriors bombed out of finals contention with a record losing run.
Sitting fourth in mid-July, they lost nine straight and dropped to 13th.
Mannering said the issue for him was more off-field.
“It’s just the extra commitment outside of football that wore me down a bit,” he said.
“If I could just lead the team out each week, I would keep the role for sure. That’s not the case. I was losing a bit of enjoyment there, so I thought it was best I move on.”
Mannering has played 236 matches for the Warriors, debuting in 2005 against Brisbane.
He took over the captaincy for the 2010 season and led the Warriors to the 2011 grand final, with the club not making it to the playoffs since.
McFadden said it was a shock when Mannering opted to stand himself down.
He tried to change Mannering’s mind but he could also understand the rationale.
“It’s probably taken its toll over the years,” McFadden said.
“For him to play his best footy, I think this is a good decision for him.”
Hoffman, 32, is into his second year with the Warriors, after 11 seasons with Melbourne.
McFadden said other options were considered, but Hoffman, an Australian and NSW State of Origin representative, was the obvious choice.
“Ryan’s consistency as a person, both on and off the field, along with the fact that he upholds all of our values at the club – he was a clear candidate.
“He will handle all those off-field obligations pretty easily and I don’t think it will affect his performance.”
Hoffman said he was honoured by the appointment.
“I always thought I could be a captain of an NRL club but never thought I would due to circumstance,” he said.
“Having this opportunity is something I’m really looking forward to.”
Expectations are high for the Warriors in 2016 on the back of big-name signings including Kiwi representatives Roger Tuivasa-Sheck and Issac Luke.
The Warriors open their season on March 5 against the Wests Tigers.