Sebastine Ikahihifo is back in the starting line-up for tonight's clash against Brisbane. Image | www.photosport.co.nz

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.

 

VODAFONE WARRIORS

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

Interchange:

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

CLICK HERE FOR VODAFONE WARRIORS v BRISBANE BRONCOS

 

TV COVERAGE

SKY SPORT 2: Live at 7.30pm.