The Vodafone Warriors are set to field as many as 11 players who featured in last weekend’s internationals when they face the Cronulla Sharks in today’s ninth-round NRL clash at Remondis Stadium (5.30pm kick-off local time; 7.30pm NZT).
Five Vodafone Warriors excelled in the Kiwis’ famous 26-12 Anzac Test win in Brisbane with wing Manu Vatuvei named the man of the match – and winner of the Charles Savory Medal – in a side which also included captain Simon Mannering, halfback Shaun Johnson, hooker Thomas Leuluai and prop Ben Matulino.
Last Saturday night utility Dominique Peyroux exploded to score Toa Samoa’s match-winning try against Mate Ma’a Tonga. Also on Samoa’s bench was impressive Vodafone Warriors rookie prop Sam Lisone while Tuimoala Lolohea, Konrad Hurrell, Solomone Kata and Albert Vete all stood out for Tonga in its 16-18 loss.
Hurrell has earned an NRL recall today after missing the club’s Anzac Day encounter with the Gold Coast Titans while Peyroux and Vete have both returned on the interchange bench after appearing for the club’s New South Wales Cup side against Newtown on Anzac Day.
A feature of the selection today is the same starting pack for the eighth consecutive match with prop Jacob Lillyman moving within five games of his 200th career appearance and second rower Bodene Thompson playing his 94th game.
Former Cronulla outside back Jonathan Wright, who has also played for Parramatta and Canterbury-Bankstown, is making his 99th appearance today against his old club. He’s set to play his 100th against his first NRL side the Eels next week in what is also the 500th match in the Vodafone Warriors’ history.
Today’s match is the 34th between the Vodafone Warriors and the Sharks. Cronulla has an 18-15 edge in the 33 matches played so far and a 12-5 advantage in home games.
FIVE KEY FEATURES
#1 KONRAD HURRELL | After two solid displays for the club’s New South Wales Cup side and Mate Ma’a Tonga, the explosive Hurrell returns for his fifth NRL performance this year. Head coach Andrew McFadden is looking for improvements in Hurrell’s all-round contribution.
#2 KIWI QUINTET | Simon Mannering, Manu Vatuvei, Shaun Johnson, Thomas Leuluai and Ben Matulino return to the NRL aiming for more of the same after their performances for the Kiwis in their Anzac Test win over the Kangaroos.
#3 DOMINIQUE PEYROUX | In three previous appearances this season Peyroux has brought plenty of energy to the side from the bench. He did that again for Toa Samoa last weekend, lighting up to score an outstanding match-winning try.
#4 JONATHAN WRIGHT AND CHAD TOWNSEND | It’s a big day for the former Cronulla duo lining up against their old club, even more so for Wright who plays he 99th career match while Townsend moves within three games of his 50th outing.
#5 RYAN HOFFMAN AND JACOB LILLYMAN | It’s one of the last chances for New South Wales back rower Hoffman and Queensland prop Lillyman to push their claims for inclusion in this year’s opening State of Origin clash on May 27.
TOP STATS | SATURDAY, APRIL 25 v GOLD COAST TITANS LOST 28-32 24-28
Most runs | Ben Matulino 19, Bodene Thompson 17, Shaun Johnson 17, Chad Townsend 16, Simon Mannering 14. Manu Vatuvei 12, Sam Lisone 12, Sam Rapira 12, Nathan Friend 12, Tuimoala Lolohea 11, Jonathan Wright 10.
Most metres | Ben Matulino 150, Manu Vatuvei 136, Bodene Thompson 126, Jonathan Wright 114, Sam Lisone 103, Sam Rapira 103, Tuimoala Lolohea 101.
Most tackle breaks | Tuimoala Lolohea 10, Sam Lisone 5, Ben Matulino 4, Manu Vatuvei 3, Thomas Leuluai 3, David Fusitu’a 3.
Most tackles | Simon Mannering 38, Bodene Thompson 33, Ben Matulino 27, Thomas Leuluai 23, Shaun Johnson 19.
Missed tackles | Thomas Leuluai 0, Jacob Lillyman 0, Nathan Friend 0, Tuimoala Lolohea 0.
RECORD | v CRONULLA SHARKS
Overall | Played 33, Vodafone Warriors 15, Sharks 18.
Away | Played 17, Vodafone Warriors 5, Sharks 12.
500 Games | The Vodafone Warriors play their 499th match since entering the competition in 1995.
200 NRL Games | Jacob Lillyman plays his 195th NRL match.
150 NRL Games for Vodafone Warriors | Jacob Lillyman plays his 133rd game for the club.
100 NRL Games (all for Vodafones Warriors) | Shaun Johnson plays his 92nd NRL match.
100 NRL Games | Jonathan Wright plays his 99th NRL match.
100 NRL Games | Bodene Thompson plays his 94th NRL match.
50 NRL Games | Chad Townsend plays his 47th NRL match.
150 NRL Tries | Manu Vatuvei has scored 141 tries in 202 games.
50 NRL Tries | Shaun Johnson 38, Konrad Hurrell 38.
CRONULLA SHARKS v VODAFONE WARRIORS
Remondis Stadium, Cronulla
5.30pm, Saturday, May 09
Referees: Gavin Morris and David Munro
1 TUIMOALA LOLOHEA
2 JONATHAN WRIGHT
3 KONRAD HURRELL
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 DOMINIQUE PEYROUX
16 SAM LISONE
17 SAM RAPIRA
18 ALBERT VETE
HEAD COACH: ANDREW McFADDEN
BETTING – CHECK OUT ALL THE ODDS WWW.TAB.CO.NZ
Head to head | Cronulla $1.82, Vodafone Warriors $1.92
SKY SPORT 2: Live from 7.00pm NZT (kick-off 7.30pm), Saturday, May 09