Five players are poised to finish the NRL regular season having appeared in each of the Vodafone Warriors’ 24 matches.
The ever-present quintet of captain Simon Mannering, Nathan Friend, Sam Tomkins, Jacob Lillyman and Suaia Matagi will again line up in the finals decider against the Penrith Panthers at Sportingbet Stadium on Sunday (8.30pm NZT).
In the only change to the team, Feleti Mateo returns to an extended bench after an impressive outing for the club’s New South Wales Cup side.
Vodafone Warriors head coach Andrew McFadden was happy with Mateo’s efforts against the North Sydney Bears at Mount Smart Stadium last Sunday.
“He really made a statement there, and that’s what he needed to do,” said McFadden.
“He went back (to the NSW Cup), he took it in the right way and he performed. So he’s certainly someone we can use on the weekend.”
The Vodafone Warriors go into the last round of the regular season just outside the top eight, in ninth position.
Taking away all other mathematical equations a win over Penrith will see the NRL side play finals footy for the first time since 2011.
Last time these two sides met back in round 16 the Vodafone Warriors came from 16-12 down at half time to storm home 30-20.
Back in Auckland more than 600 members and fans will pack out the SKYCITY theatre, cheering the team on as they watch the match via the theatre’s big screen.
This free event will be hosted by the club’s membership team with Vodafone Warriors corporate manager Gordon Gibbons the MC. The night will include a question and answer with club legends, prize draws and spot prizes.
When: Sunday, September 7, 7.00pm-10.30pm
Where: SKYCITY Theatre (parking available at the SKYCITY Hotel)
Event Cost: FREE
Facilities: Dedicated cash bar facilities will be available throughout the evening
Kick-off: NRL kick-off 8.30pm
Prizes: Spot prizes will be awarded on the evening including SKYCITY food and beverage vouchers.
VODAFONE WARRIORS v PENRITH PANTHERS
Sportingbet Stadium, Penrith
6.30pm (AEST), Sunday, September 7
1 SAM TOMKINS
2 NGANI LAUMAPE
3 KONRAD HURRELL
4 DOMINIQUE PEYROUX
5 MANU VATUVEI
6 THOMAS LEULUAI
7 SHAUN JOHNSON
8 JACOB LILLYMAN
9 NATHAN FRIEND
10 BEN MATULINO
11 BEN HENRY
12 SIMON MANNERING (c)
13 SIONE LOUSI
14 SAM RAPIRA
15 SUAIA MATAGI
16 SEBASTINE IKAHIHIFO
17 JAYSON BUKUYA
20 FELETI MATEO
HEAD COACH: ANDREW McFADDEN
TAB odds for Sunday are out
Panthers $1.85 v Vodafone Warriors $1.90