New Zealand stalwart Simon Mannering retires from international rugby league

New Zealand veteran Simon Mannering has hung up his boots from playing international rugby league.

The 31-year-old has earned 45 caps for the Kiwis and he only sits behind Ruben Wiki (55), Gary Freeman (46) and Stacey Jones (46) in New Zealand’s all-time appearances list.

Mannering was part of the New Zealand side that won the World Cup final in 2008 as they beat Australia 34-20 in Brisbane.

His retirement is with immediate effect, meaning he will not play for the Kiwis in their mid-season Test against England in Denver.

On his decision, he said: “I’ve had this on my mind for a while.

“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.

“I was honoured to wear the Kiwi jersey every time and it’s been a huge privilege having the chance to play alongside so many outstanding players.

“It was also a special honour to captain my country.”

New Zealand coach Michael Maguire has paid tribute to Mannering for his services to the national team.

He said: “In his years of being a Kiwi, there is no doubt that Simon has made his country proud.

“There is a reason so many budding rugby league players idolise his abilities on the field and the way he holds himself off the field makes him a true Kiwi role model.

“His leadership has developed and mentored a lot of young and up and coming players not only at club level, but at international level too. He has also left his own legacy on the new generation of Kiwi players coming through.

“Sometime down the track, I hope to work alongside Simon as his knowledge and expertise as a Kiwi international will be highly beneficial in and around the squad.”

Ben Matulino and Russell Packer have also announced their retirements from international rugby league.