Bodene Thompson fights in the tackle of Thomas Leuluai.

NRL LATE MAIL | Unchanged team

The Vodafone Warriors will take the field as selected for their second-round NYC clash against the Canberra Raiders at GIO Stadium tonight (6.30 kick-off local time, 8.30 NZT).

The preparation for the match has been in contrast to the build-up to last week’s encounter with Newcastle when head coach Andrew McIntyre was forced to remodel his line-up after losing both fullback Sam Tomkins and wing Ken Maumalo late in the piece.

The Vodafone Warriors are starting a season with back-to-back away matches for the first time in their history.

After beginning with a 14-24 loss to the Knights last weekend, they’re back in Canberra where they last year picked up only their second success at the ground in 12 attempts since their first trip to Australia’s national capital in 1996.

The first win was a 31-24 triumph in 1997 while last August the Vodafone Warriors rampaged to a 54-18 victory, a day when Manu Vatuvei snared a hat-trick.

Tomkins has returned to make his first appearance of the season while Tuimoala Lolohea, the players’ player of the day against the Knights, has moved from fullback into the centres where he’ll team up on the right edge with Jonathan Wright. Wright becomes Vodafone Warrior No 198 after 91 appearances for Parramatta, Canterbury-Bankstown and Cronulla since 2009.

Solomone Kata reverts to the centres after being forced to move out to the right wing in the reshuffle against the Knights.

The Vodafone Warriors will start with the same pack used against the Knights, a combination packed with experience. Captain Simon Mannering will be playing his 214th NRL match, second rower Ryan Hoffman his 247th, prop Jacob Lillyman his 188th and fellow front rower Ben Matulino his 154th. Hooker Thomas Leuluai has played almost 300 games in the NRL and Super League combined while second rower Bodene Thompson plays his 87th match this weekend.

On the bench veteran hooker Nathan Friend takes his tally to 199 games leaving him in line to achieve his 200th milestone at Mount Smart Stadium on March 21.

 

FIVE KEY FEATURES

#1 SAM TOMKINS | After playing all 24 matches last season, Tomkins missed his first game for the club last week. He returns this week to provide both strike power and an added playmaking dimension to the side’s attack. 

#2 JONATHAN WRIGHT | With close to 100 NRL appearances, Wright gives the Vodafone Warriors ample experience in their back three for this match. He was unavailable last week completing a suspension. 

#3 SIMON MANNERING | The Vodafone Warriors’ four-time player of the year has always contributed selflessly to team needs for both club and country and he did so typically again last week, making 52 tackles with no misses, no errors and nine runs.

#4 TUIMOALA LOLOHEA | The 20-year-old Lolohea moves to the centres after a superb outing at fullback against the Knights. An excitement machine with the ball in hand, he was used on the wing in his initial NRL appearances last year.

#5 ALBERT VETE AND SAM LISONE | The former NYC front rowers were both introduced to NRL football against the Knights. Combined they carried the ball 32 times, gained more than 210 metres and made 46 tackles with just one miss.

 

TOP STATS | v NEWCASTLE

Most runs | Albert Vete 19, Tuimoala Lolohea 18, Chad Townsend 16, Manu Vatuvei 15, Ben Matulino 15, Bodene Thompson 15, Ryan Hoffman 15, Sam Lisone 13

Most metres | Tuimoala Lolohea 213, Manu Vatuvei 175, Chad Townsend 147, Ben Matulino 145, Ryan Hoffman 129, Albert Vete 125, Solomone Kata 122, Bodene Thompson 118

Most tackles | Simon Mannering 52, Bodene Thompson 35, Ben Matulino 30, Thomas Leuluai 26, Sam Lisone 28

Tackle breaks | Tuimoala Lolohea 10, Ryan Hoffman 6, Konrad Hurrell 3, Solomone Kata 3, Thomas Leuluai 3, Manu Vatuvei 2, Bodene Thompson 2, Chad Townsend 2

  

MILESTONES WATCH

500 Games | The Vodafone Warriors play their 492nd match since entering the competition in 1995.

250 NRL Games | Ryan Hoffman plays his 247th NRL match.

200 NRL Games (all for Vodafone Warriors) | Manu Vatuvei plays his 196th NRL match.

200 NRL Games | Nathan Friend plays his 199th NRL match; Jacob Lillyman plays his 188th NRL match.

150 NRL Games for Vodafone Warriors | Jacob Lillyman plays his 126th game for the club.

100 NRL Games (all for Vodafones Warriors) | Shaun Johnson plays his 85th NRL match.

100 NRL Games | Bodene Thompson plays his 87th NRL match.

50 NRL Games (all for Vodafone Warriors) | Ben Henry plays his 49th NRL match.

50 NRL Games | Chad Townsend plays his 40th NRL match.

150 NRL Tries | Manu Vatuvei has scored 135 tries in 195 games.

50 NRL Tries | Konrad Hurrell and Shaun Johnson have both scored 37 tries.

 

CANBERRA RAIDERS v VODAFONE WARRIORS

GIO Stadium, Canberra

6.30pm, Sunday, March 15

Referees: Adam Devcich and David Munro

 

VODAFONE WARRIORS

1        SAM TOMKINS

2        JONATHAN WRIGHT

3        TUIMOALA LOLOHEA

4        SOLOMONE KATA

5        MANU VATUVEI

6        CHAD TOWNSEND

7        SHAUN JOHNSON

8        JACOB LILLYMAN

9        THOMAS LEULUAI

10       BEN MATULINO

11       BODENE THOMPSON

12       RYAN HOFFMAN

13       SIMON MANNERING (c)

Interchange:

14       NATHAN FRIEND

15       BEN HENRY

16       SAM LISONE

17       ALBERT VETE

HEAD COACH: ANDREW McFADDEN

 

BETTING – CHECK OUT ALL THE ODDS WWW.TAB.CO.NZ

Head to head | Vodafone Warriors $1.67, Canberra Raiders $2.10

GO TO TAB.CO.NZ FOR ALL ODDS | VODAFONE WARRIORS v CANBERRA RAIDERS

 

TV COVERAGE

SKY SPORT 1: Live from 8.00pm NZT.