VODAFONE WARRIORS v BRISBANE BRONCOS
Mount Smart Stadium, Auckland
7.30pm, Saturday, June 21
Referees: Jared Maxwell and Dave Munro
The Vodafone Warriors will take the field as named for tonight’s 15th-round NRL encounter with the Brisbane Broncos at Mount Smart Stadium (7.30pm kick-off; match day sponsor: flava).
It means they’ll field the same backline for the fourth match running.
The Vodafone Warriors lie 11th on 14 points with the Broncos fifth on 18 on the back of a run of four straight wins.
The Vodafone Warriors have won five of their last six matches against Brisbane at Mount Smart Stadium and nine of the last 12 matches at the ground between the two traditional foes.
Centre Konrad Hurrell makes his 48th NRL appearance tonight leaving him in line to play his 50th in the July 12 home game against Parramatta.
Winger Manu Vatuvei, the club’s leading try scorer again with nine so far, will play his 184th career game for the Vodafone Warriors tonight leaving him one behind Lance Hohaia on the club’s all-time list (only Stacey Jones, Simon Mannering and Logan Swann have played more games).
FIVE KEY FEATURES
#1 MOUNT SMART STADIUM | The home ground factor will be an undoubted advantage again. The Vodafone Warriors revelled in being back at the venue for the Newcastle match but encounter a much tougher opponent in Brisbane.
#2 JACOB LILLYMAN | Lillyman is ready to front up again after just 19 minutes on the field in his return to Origin football on Wednesday night. The South Sydney game was the first time he has failed to make 100 metres this season.
#3 SEBASTINE IKAHIHIFO | With Ben Matulino recovering from knee surgery, Ikahihifo returns to a starting spot in the back row with Simon Mannering moving to the left edge. He made 39 tackles off the bench against South Sydney.
#4 SAM RAPIRA | With some miles on the clock since his return from a back complaint, Rapira reclaims a starting prop’s role. Like the rest of his team-mates, had plenty of defensive work against South Sydney.
#5 NATHAN FRIEND | The veteran faces an 80-minute shift tonight with Siliva Havili out of the squad on New South Wales Cup duty. In 60 minutes against South Sydney he racked up almost a try a minute with 52.
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 SAM RAPIRA
11 JAYSON BUKUYA
12 SIMON MANNERING (c)
13 SEBASTINE IKAHIHIFO
14 FELETI MATEO
15 SUAIA MATAGI
16 CHARLES GUBB
17 BEN HENRY
HEAD COACH: ANDREW McFADDEN
BETTING – WWW.TAB.CO.NZ
Head to head | Vodafone Warriors $1.45, Brisbane $2.60
SKY SPORT 2: Live at 7.30pm.