Coach Stacey Jones will have eight players with 2013 NYC finals experience at his disposal when the Vodafone Junior Warriors put their impressive play-offs record on the line in their elimination qualifying final against the Sydney Roosters at Allianz Stadium on Saturday (3.00pm kick-off local time; 5.00pm NZT).
Five of the backline and three of the starting forwards were all involved in last year’s campaign which finished with defeat by Penrith in the grand final.
This is the seventh straight season the Vodafone Junior Warriors have reached the post-season phase of the competition having captured the premiership twice in 2010 and 2011, lost the 2013 grand final and collected the minor premiership in 2011.
They’ve played a total of 16 finals matches winning 11 and losing five. No other club can compete with the Vodafone Junior Warriors’ record.
Canberra and Canterbury-Bankstown have been in the finals five times but failed to qualify this year while the Roosters are in the play-offs for the fifth time this season. The Raiders have played in 14 finals matches, winning eight and losing six, the Bulldogs have won only four of 11 play-offs and the Roosters just two of nine.
Brisbane is appearing in only its fourth finals series this time while Parramatta and Newcastle have made the top eight for only the second time.
Of the Vodafone Junior Warriors’ finals squad last year, Metia Lisati and Ngataua Hukatai are on the wings tomorrow while Solomone Kata is in the centres and Tuimoala Lolohea and Mason Lino again team up in the halves. Starting in the forwards are props Sam Lisone and Kouma Samson while Adam Tuimavave-Gerrard is in the second row.
Of the other 10 players in the 18-man squad named, centre Ken Maumalo, hooker Kurt Robinson and interchange forward Toafofoa Sipley made their NYC debuts last year but didn’t feature in the finals campaign.
The first-time NYC players this time are fullback Brad Abbey, second rower Marata Niukore, loose forward Jazz Tevaga and interchange players Ofahiki Ogden, Nathaniel Roache, Bunty Afoa and James Bell.
VODAFONE JUNIOR WARRIORS – NYC FINALS RECORD
2008 St George Illawarra Won 47-20
Penrith Won 38-4
Brisbane Lost 26-28
2009 St George Illawarra Lost 24-48
2010 Manly Won 25-22
Canterbury-Bankstown Won 23-16
South Sydney Won 42-28 (grand final)
2011 Newcastle Won 54-6
Canterbury-Bankstown Won 64-0
North Queensland Won 31-30 (grand final)
2012 Canberra Lost 38-39
Sydney Roosters Lost 10-26
2013 South Sydney Won 20-18
Sydney Roosters Won 58-6
Canterbury-Bankstown Won 54-38
Penrith Lost 30-42 (grand final)