The Vodafone Warriors will take the field as selected in today’s third-round NRL clash against Parramatta at Mount Smart Stadium (5.00pm kick-off).
Nathan Friend (200th game) and Ben Henry (50th game) both reach career milestones as the Vodafone Warriors prepare for their first home game in their 20th anniversary season.
Also closing in on major milestones are Manu Vatuvei (197th game) and Jacob Lillyman (189th game).
Friend, now in his 14th NRL season, began the journey to his 200th appearance with one game for Brisbane in 2002 followed by 34 for Melbourne from 2003-2006 and 100 for Gold Coast from 2007-2011. On Saturday he makes his 65th appearance as a Vodafone Warrior and will bring up the mark alongside Ryan Hoffman, one of his old team-mates at the Storm.
Henry made his first-grade debut against Manly in 2012 and last year played his first Test for the Kiwis.
“We’ve already had six players appearing for the club for the first time and now Nathan and Ben reaching these milestones,” said Vodafone Warriors head coach Andrew McFadden.
“They’re occasions we place a lot of emphasis on. It’s also special to have two such valuable team members being able to bring up their milestones in front of family, friends, members and fans at our home.
“Friendy and Ben have made terrific contributions to the club and I know the rest of the boys are thrilled for them.
“We’re also excited to be at home for our next two games in our 20th anniversary season. We can’t wait to get out there in front of our own supporters after two tough games on the road. This is the place the boys love playing at with a big and vocal crowd there behind them.”
Friend’s and Henry’s achievements coincide with the PlayNRL Round which promotes the game’s junior rugby league community. It’s a time for Friend and Henry to pause to remember where the game started for them; Friend with Wests Juniors in Toowoomba and Henry with the Bay Roskill Vikings in Auckland.
VODAFONE WARRIORS v PARRAMATTA EELS
Mount Smart Stadium, Auckland
5.00pm, Saturday, March 21
Referees: Ashley Klein and Adam Gee
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)
14 NATHAN FRIEND
15 BEN HENRY
16 SAM LISONE
17 ALBERT VETE
HEAD COACH: ANDREW McFADDEN