Just a few seconds is all Manu Vatuvei needs to achieve what no other player has managed in the NRL competition’s 107-year history – and it’s a real chance of happening when the Vodafone Warriors face the Sydney Roosters in their 14th-round #ZombieNight clash at Mount Smart Stadium tonight (8.00pm kick-off; match day sponsor: Vodafone).
Not too many games go by anywhere – least of all at home – when the 29-year-old doesn’t score a try.
While he already has an astounding club record 144 tries – close to twice as many as second-placed Stacey Jones – it’s his 145th try which will be the one to cherish. It would be even more so, for the romantics at least, if it happened at home in one of the left-hand corners of Mount Smart Stadium the big man has visited so many times throughout his 205-game career so far.
That’s because this one try is all that stands between Vatuvei and 10 out of 10; that is, 10 tries in 10 consecutive seasons. Pick out any of the recognised try-scorers in history and none of them has done it before – none of the great scoring machines of the past from Ken Irvine to Harold Horder, Bob Fulton or Johnny King or modern-day poachers from Billy Slater to Steve Menzies, Andrew Ettingshausen, Terry Lamb, Steve Renouf and more.
So in just a few seconds tonight Vatuvei could seize a moment like no other.
After making five appearances as a rookie in 2004, Vatuvei managed nine tries in 12 games in 2005 before fully establishing himself in 2006. In every season since then he has scored 10 tries or more and sits on nine from 11 games so far this year. For the last eight seasons he has also been the club’s top try-scorer (or top equal).
It’s a testament to his ability and durability not to mention his longevity that he’s still such a weapon playing on the wing in his 12th season, where he has played his entire career but for one starting appearance in the centres in his fourth game.
Vatuvei is now 13th equal on the all-time list with 144 tries in 205 games. The only current players ahead of him are Billy Slater (172 in 277) and Brett Stewart (154 in 210) while Greg Inglis is 15 tries behind him in fourth spot (129 in 213). Vatuvei needs six more tries to become the 11th player to score 150 tries.
It’s also worth noting that Slater, Stewart and Inglis have all had the benefit of playing in highly successful sides that have won grand finals and been in the finals almost every season of their careers. Vatuvei has played in just one grand final while the club has made the finals only four times in his career, serving to underline the quality of his feat. And, of course, he has the Kiwis’ Test record with 22 tries in 28 internationals.
This is how Vatuvei’s record stacks up on a season-by-season basis since 2006 (during which time he has scored 135 tries in 188 matches):
MANU VATUVEI – CHASING 10 OUT 10
2006 | 10 tries
2007 | 10 tries
2008 | 16 tries
2009 | 13 tries
2010 | 20 tries
2011 | 12 tries
2012 | 12 tries
2013 | 16 tries
2014 | 17 tries
2015 | 9 tries
While another personal milestone is in sight for Vatuvei the far more pressing task for him and his team-mates is a rapid turnaround in the quality of their total performance after last week’s 4-36 loss to South Sydney.
FIVE KEY FEATURES
#1 MANU VATUVEI | It’s another #FeedTheBeast night at Mount Smart Stadium. Typically the humble giant would rather have a win than score a try against the Roosters but this one try he needs certainly would be special giving him a record to devour.
#2 KONRAD HURRELL | For Hurrell, it’s a case of a fresh start to the season as he comes straight back into the side five weeks since he last played against Cronulla on May 9. He is also teamed up with a new partner on the right edge in two-game NRL wing Ken Maumalo.
#3 ALBERT VETE | The rookie prop, along with fellow first-year team-mate Sam Lisone, has impressed from the bench throughout the season but now he is set for a new mission starting an NRL game for the first time replacing Queensland Origin front rower Jacob Lillyman.
#4 CHARLIE GUBB | The big Wellington front rower has earned his first start of the season and just the seventh of his career since 2013, coming onto the interchange with the seasoned Jacob Lillyman on State of Origin duty.
#5 RAYMOND FAITALA-MARINER | With Ryan Hoffman with the New South Wales Origin side, Faitala-Mariner earns his second NRL appearance. Since making his NRL debut against the Titans on Anzac Day he has continued to impress in the New South Wales Cup.
TOP STATS | SATURDAY, JUNE 06 v SOUTH SYDNEY RABBITOHS LOST 4-36
Most runs | Manu Vatuvei 14, Ken Maumalo 14, Jacob Lillyman 13, Ben Matulino 10, Tuimoala Lolohea 10, Ryan Hoffman 10, Chad Townsend 10, Simon Mannering 10, Bodene Thompson 10, Solomone Kata 10.
Most metres | Manu Vatuvei 167, Ken Maumalo 155, Jacob Lillyman 129, Tuimoala Lolohea 115, Solomone Kata 114, Ben Matulino 110.
Most tackle breaks | Manu Vatuvei 4, Ben Matulino 3, Ken Maumalo 2.
Most tackles | Simon Mannering 46, Nathan Friend 38, Ben Matulino 36, Jacob Lillyman 33, Bodene Thompson 30, Chad Townsend 26, Siliva Havili 24, Albert Vete 24, Sam Lisone 24, Sebastine Ikahihifo 22, Ryan Hoffman 20.
Missed tackles | Simon Mannering 0, Chad Townsend 0.
RECORD | v SYDNEY ROOSTERS
Overall | Played 33, Vodafone Warriors 18, Roosters 14, Drawn 1.
Home | Played 15, Vodafone Warriors 9, Roosters 6.
200 NRL Games | Jacob Lillyman has played 198 NRL matches but is absent on Origin duty this week.
150 NRL Games for Vodafone Warriors | Jacob Lillyman has played 136 games for the club but is absent on Origin duty this week.
100 NRL Games (all for Vodafone Warriors) | Shaun Johnson plays his 96TH NRL match.
100 NRL Games | Bodene Thompson plays his 98th NRL match.
150 NRL Tries | Manu Vatuvei has scored 144 tries in 205 games.
50 NRL Tries | Shaun Johnson 40, Konrad Hurrell 38.
500 NRL Points | Shaun Johnson 487.
10 Tries in 10 Consecutive Seasons | Manu Vatuvei has scored nine tries this season; he needs one more to become the first player in the competition’s history to score 10 tries in 10 consecutive seasons.
VODAFONE WARRIORS v SYDNEY ROOSTERS
Mount Smart Stadium, Auckland
8.00pm, Saturday, June 13
Referees: Gavin Badger and Gavin Reynolds
1 SAM TOMKINS
2 KEN MAUMALO
3 KONRAD HURRELL
4 SOLOMONE KATA
5 MANU VATUVEI
6 CHAD TOWNSEND
7 SHAUN JOHNSON
8 ALBERT VETE
9 NATHAN FRIEND
10 BEN MATULINO
11 BODENE THOMPSON
12 RAYMOND FAITALA-MARINER
13 SIMON MANNERING (c)
14 TUIMOALA LOLOHEA
15 SEBASTINE IKAHIHIFO
16 SAM LISONE
17 CHARLIE GUBB
18 JONATHAN WRIGHT
HEAD COACH: ANDREW McFADDEN
BETTING – CHECK OUT ALL THE ODDS WWW.TAB.CO.NZ
Head to head | Vodafone Warriors $1.55, Sydney Roosters $2.35
SKY SPORT 2: Live from 7.30pm NZT (kick-off 8.00pm), Saturday, June 13