Swapping Ben Matulino (pictured) for Jacob Lillyman is the only change to the Vodafone Warriors line-up for todays 20th-round NRL encounter with the Melbourne Storm at Mount Smart Stadium (2.05pm kick-off). Photo: lPhotosport


Lillyman lines up for the 94th time for the club and his 156th overall teamed up with fellow veteran front rower Sam Rapira whos also nearing a major milestone.

It will be Rapiras 145th career appearance, leaving him on target to bring up his 150th in the final regular season home game of the season against Canberra on Saturday, August 31.


The match will see the Vodafone Warriors fielding their three ex-Melbourne players against their former club for the first time; Nathan Friend and Todd Lowrie played in the Anzac Day clash while Dane Nielsen was injured.


Ngani Laumape starts on the right wing for the injured Glen Fisiiahi in the only change to the 17 players used in the 24-12 win against Wests Tigers.

Fisiiahi is out for the season requiring surgery after tearing his right pectoral muscle.


Rookie Laumape (20) has been given the chance to come back into the side for his ninth appearance after last being used on the left wing when he replaced veteran Manu Vatuvei for the July 7 clash against South Sydney.


The Palmerston North Boys High School product has consistently impressed this season as he has alternated between playing for the Vodafone Warriors and for the Auckland Vulcans in the New South Wales Cup. He tops the clubs statistics for most average runs per game (14.2) and average metres per game (131).

With the Michael Moore Trophy at stake, this is one of the feature clashes in the NRLs Rivalry Round as teams eye the last seven rounds of the regular season.


It will also serve as a testimonial occasion for Vatuvei, celebrating his 10th season in the NRL since he arrived on the scene in 2004. The 27-year-old, along with Jerome Ropati, was honoured at a Sir Peter Leitch-organised double testimonial luncheon at the Ellerslie Convention Centre on Thursday.


In his 165th career appearance today, Vatuveis contribution to the club and the game will be acknowledged in a number of ways. With 112 tries in total, he has either led or shared top spot in the clubs try-scoring charts each of the last six seasons and is again leading the race this year with 10 in 12 games (just ahead of Konrad Hurrell with nine in 13 games). He enjoys a high strike rate against the Storm with 10 tries in 12 matches.


Melbourne is fortified by returning Origin players Cameron Smith, Billy Slater, Cooper Cronk and Ryan Hoffman.


VODAFONE WARRIORS v MELBOURNE STORM


Mount Smart Stadium, Auckland

2.00pm, Sunday, July 28

Referees: Ben Cummins and Henry Perenara


VODAFONE WARRIORS


1KEVIN LOCKE

2NGANI LAUMAPE

3DANE NIELSEN

4KONRAD HURRELL

5MANU VATUVEI

6THOMAS LEULUAI

7SHAUN JOHNSON

8SAM RAPIRA

9NATHAN FRIEND

15JACOB LILLYMAN

11FELETI MATEO

12SIMON MANNERING (c)

13ELIJAH TAYLOR

Interchange:

10BEN MATULINO

14SUAIA MATAGI

16TODD LOWRIE

17DOMINIQUE PEYROUX


HEAD COACH: MATTHEW ELLIOTT