Head coach Andrew McFadden has retained an unchanged line-up for the NRL’s longest road trip when the Vodafone Warriors face South Sydney in Saturday’s 13th-round clash in Perth (7.30pm local time; 11.30pm NZT).
As well as the 17 players used in Sunday’s 38-18 win over the Newcastle Knights, the Vodafone Warriors will take utility Tuimoala Lolohea and prop Charlie Gubb onr the 5345km trek to Western Australia when they leave tomorrow.
The encounter with the Rabbitohs is the Vodafone Warriors’ third consecutive game in Perth after playing South Sydney there last year and Manly in 2012.
The Vodafone Warriors have changed their travelling schedule from the previous two years.
“We’re going a day earlier than we would usually for an away game in Australia,” said McFadden.
“We just want to ensure we enjoy the time away together as a group and focus on our performance.”
The Vodafone Warriors have won four games and lost three since McFadden took charge, the four wins coming in the last five outings. More significantly the team’s defence has been consistently solid in those five matches conceding an average of just 16 points a game.
On their return to Mount Smart Stadium, the Vodafone Warriors backed up their impressive completion rate of 33 from 36 sets (92 per cent) with just 16 missed tackles; in his 50th appearance for the club hooker Nathan Friend made 51 tackles without a miss.
Captain Simon Mannering’s outstanding display in his double milestone match resulted in him being the automatic choice as the players’ player of the day. As well as his two tries – only his fifth double in 200 NRL matches – the 27-year-old made 125 metres from 13 runs and came up with 24 tackles, eight tackle breaks, one off load and one line break. Only six players – all backs – top his tally of 47 tries for the club; he now has a record of 53 wins and 47 losses as a captain.
With Mannering's major milestones achieved, Ben Matulino looms as the next Vodafone Warrior to reach a career landmark. He is now just eight games short of playing his 150th game since his debut in 2008.
With Sunday’s win over Newcastle the Vodafone Warriors completed the first half of their 2014 campaign with a 50 per cent success rate from six wins and six losses. They have won three of five games at home (Westpac Stadium, Eden Park and now Mount Smart Stadium) with three wins from seven matches on the road (Townsville, Melbourne and Robina).
A first victory in Perth this weekend would give the Vodafone Warriors a positive win-loss record for only the second time in the last 10 seasons matching their 7-6 ratio after 13 matches in 2011.
After scoring yet another career double on Sunday, winger Manu Vatuvei now has 25 tries in his last 28 matches. With 127 tries in 182 games – the fifth highest among current NRL players – Vatuvei has scored nine tries in 11 games this year and needs only one more to complete the feat of touching down for 10 tries or more in nine successive seasons.
With five goals from seven attempts against Newcastle, Shaun Johnson brought up his 100th NRL goal.
VODAFONE WARRIORS v SOUTH SYDNEY
Nib Stadium, Perth
7.30pm, Saturday, June 7
1 SAM TOMKINS
2 DAVID FUSITU’A
3 KONRAD HURRELL
4 NGANI LAUMAPE
5 MANU VATUVEI
6 CHAD TOWNSEND
7 SHAUN JOHNSON
8 JACOB LILLYMAN
9 NATHAN FRIEND
10 SUAIA MATAGI
11 JAYSON BUKUYA
12 BEN MATULINO
13 SIMON MANNERING (c)
14 SILIVA HAVILI
15 SAM RAPIRA
16 FELETI MATEO
17 SEBASTINE IKAHIHIFO
18 TUIMOALA LOLOHEA
20 CHARLES P GUBB
HEAD COACH: ANDREW McFADDEN