Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The energiser bunny has reinvented itself in the guise of Simon Mannering.

For, the second rower just keeps on going and going...and, going. Going strong for eighty minutes, that is. Eighty long gruesome, tortuous minutes, where the hits come thick and fast, the bruises take pride of place as the latest badge of honour marks itself on the elongated 6ft 4” frame of the twenty-five year old second rower.

A man of leisure, he is not. Not for him to be roaming free on the wings of try scoring ecstasy. Instead, the former Nelson boy is content to busy himself away from the limelight, nobly preferring to get down and dirty in the darkened alleys of the hard working, iron willed methodology that is lurking behind every corner clad in cloaks of murky intent, where he spends his time with his fellow brethren in the forwards.

Sure, occasionally he will tender his services out to the positions of the needy - covering in the centres, mostly- in times of emergency. But that is Mannering for you; all for one and one for all is his attitude. Whatever is best for the team, he will do for the team.

No wonder former coach, Ivan Cleary, appointed him Captain in 2010 when Steve Price missed said season through injury. From one captain fantastic to the next captain fantastic, Mannering stepped up to the mark, took his best shot and hit the captaincy bull’s-eye. To say he has made every post a winner would be to understate things immeasurably.

Not one to rest on his laurels, this leader of men performs week in week out at or near the peak of his not inconsiderable powers. That there never appears to be an off day speaks volumes for not only his ability, but also for the maturity that exudes out of this still young man. It is maturity that allows for a performance that only has one setting; top gear of his well oiled rugby league talent.

Consistency is always a most difficult of countenance to obtain. It requires the steadiest of minds - a mind that can muster up the necessary mental fortitude to fight back those darkest of thoughts when the going gets tough. When there are three would be attendants in the tackle, battering and bruising a fragile outer casing that can only be protected by a sturdy mind, this is the time Mannering elevates himself above the average. When forcing his way through the pain is the go, pushing back those would be foe, suppressing the desire to hold back, to do just enough without having to endure the pain of the world’s toughest contact competition.

Which is why inspiration abounds from his being, taking with him sixteen other willing teammates, as they dutifully follow their courageous leader into the heart of the battle. He’s not a man that lets extravagant flourishes of verbal fluency exercise his vocal cords. But don’t mistake this for a lack of activity upstairs, he's a smart cookie, for sure.

It’s just that he prefers to let his actions do the talking. And they have been actions that have survived intact from injury, for the most part, since his debut for the Warriors in 2005.

Reliable of mind, reliable of body, it is a certainty that this Captain fantastic can be relied on to lead his young team to the apex of their capabilities.

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