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NEW Zealand trio Simon Mannering, Ben Matulino and Russell Packer have all announced their retirement from the international game before this month’s Test match against England in the US.
Mannering was poised to lead the Kiwis into their ground-breaking game in Denver, a week on Saturday, until his decision to quit and new coach Michael Maguire will now not appoint a captain.
The New Zealand Warriors centre or second-rower was in the Kiwis team that won the World Cup in 2008 and succeeded Benji Marshall as captain ahead of the 2013 World Cup.
Mannering made the last of his 45 Test appearances in the 2017 World Cup and finishes behind only Ruben Wiki (55), Gary Freeman (46) and Stacey Jones (46) among New Zealand’s most capped players.
“I’ve had this on my mind for a while,” said Mannering.
“The idea of taking a Test to the United States is really exciting for the game, but I think it’s a good time for younger players to be given every opportunity.”
Also stepping down from the international scene are Matulino, who won 23 caps from 2009-2015, and Packer, who made seven appearances from 2011-17.
Adam Blair, who captained New Zealand at last year’s World Cup, will lead the side onto the field at Mile High Stadium, but he will not have the title of captain.
Instead, Maguire has taken a collective approach and is hoping to see several leaders put their hand up for the role prior to the end-of-year Tests against Australia, England and France.
Maguire adopted a similar leadership group during his two years in charge of Wigan from 2010-12.
Maguire will announce his squad for the Denver Test on Sunday, but he will be without former captain Jesse Bromwich who has a hamstring injury, while Warriors skipper Roger Tuivasa-Sheck is in doubt with an ankle injury.
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