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Vodafone Warriors team-mates and coaching staff have lauded veteran winger Manu Vatuvei for the sacrifice he made by playing in Saturday nights thrilling 24-22 24th-round NRL win over the Gold Coast Titans at Skilled Park in Robina.

The 27-year-olds wife Jen went into labour with their third daughter Eva in the early hours of Sunday morning but despite best efforts to rush home on the first available flight out of Brisbane Vatuvei missed the birth.

It wasnt until early yesterday afternoon that he was reunited with his family and was able to hold his newest daughter for the first time.

Vodafone Warriors head coach Matthew Elliott said all the players and staff were both delighted for and indebted to Vatuvei.

Were thrilled for Jen and Manu and we all want to congratulate them on the birth of Eva, a little sister for Makayla and Savannah, he said.

We also want to acknowledge Manu for the sacrifice he made, missing one of the most important moments of his life because he was away from home fighting for his club.

Vatuveis intended travel plans were thrown into disarray around 3.00 yesterday morning when he learned his wife was going into labour. It necessitated a dash to Brisbane airport from the teams Gold Coast hotel to wait for an early (but ultimately delayed) flight home.

He told followers on his Instagram (m_va2vei)and Twitter (@ManuVatuvei) accounts: Nervous at the moment wife is going into labour and Im in Aus #PleaseHoldUntilIGetThere

He followed up later with: Just at the airport waiting to go home and wife is about to have baby soon gutted that I might miss her but will be happy to see them #Blessed

After landing at 1.34pm he posted a photo hed been sent of little Eva with this comment: Just landed back in nz and missed the birth of my lil angel #blessed cant wait to see her and give her the biggest hug and kiss!

Finally at 2.18pm he published a photo with Eva on Instagram and Twitter commenting: Eva meets her daddy for the 1st time #Blessed another daddys girl #lockdown lol

Vatuveis appearance on Saturday night hours before Evas arrival was his 169th for the Vodafone Warriors. Hell draw level with Awen Guttenbeil on 170 games when he lines up against Canberra at Mount Smart Stadium on Saturday night (5.00pm kick-off; match day sponsor: Vodafone). That will place him fifth equal on the clubs all-time list behind Stacey Jones (261), Logan Swann (195), Simon Mannering (186) and Lance Hohaia (185).
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The New Zealand Warriors honour the mana of the Indigenous peoples of Aotearoa, Australia and the Pacific. We acknowledge the traditional kaitiaki of the lands, elders past and present, their stories, their traditions, their mamae and their mana motuhake.

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