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Mannering excited by NZ Four Nations depth

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 31/08/2016 Angelo Risso

Simon Mannering © Getty Images Simon Mannering Warriors workhorse Simon Mannering says he's never seen so much talent knocking on the door for a Kiwi jersey.

New Zealand coach Stephen Kearney visited Auckland last week and discussed the upcoming Four Nations tour with several of the Warriors' Kiwi stars.

Mannering, who has not played for the international side since 2015, said those talks were productive.

The 41-Test lock has played in the black jumper since 2006, winning a World Cup and two Four Nations trophies in the process.

He was not opposed to leading his country in the tournament in England but the final decision would rest with Kearney.

"I'd just be stoked to be back in the side as a player," the 30-year-old Mannering said.

"I haven't played in the jersey for a little bit now."

A number of young Kiwi players have taken the NRL by storm in 2016, including Penrith's James Fisher-Harris and Dallin Watene-Zelezniak, Canberra's Joseph Tapine and Warriors guns Solomone Kata and Tuimoala Lolohea.

Mannering could barely believe the talent at Kearney's disposal.

NZ rugby league's depth had grown in leaps and bounds over recent years, he said.

"I remember when I started in the Kiwis, you pretty much scratched together 25 players for a squad," Mannering said.

"Now you could pick two strong teams, and when you do pick a squad there's so much quality missing out."

Kearney told NZRL he was impressed by Mannering's form after missing this year's Anzac Day test against Australia with injury.

The Warriors stalwart has made 998 tackles in 2016, or almost 50 a game.

"His performances have been great right through those golden-point games," Kearney said after the Warriors' August win over the Titans.

"He's been there or thereabouts for a few weeks now."

Mannering's Warriors side were ruled out of the NRL finals for a fifth consecutive year on Sunday after slumping to a 36-24 loss to the Tigers.

The side had defeated themselves with a late-game collapse, he said.

They will now round out their NRL campaign with Sunday's dead rubber against the lowly Eels.

"As players we have to take onus of that," Mannering said.

"There'll be some soul-searching after this weekend."

New Zealand's first Four Nations match will be against England on October 29.

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