Prop Jacob Lillyman and second rower Bodene Thompson move within one game of key career milestones when they line up for the Vodafone Warriors in their 15th-round NRL encounter with the Gold Coast Titans at Cbus Super Stadium on Saturday (5.30pm kick-off local time; 7.30pm NZT).
Backing up from Queensland’s 18-26 Origin II loss in Melbourne last night, Lillyman will make his 199th NRL appearance while first-year Vodafone Warrior Thompson will be playing his 99th career game when he faces his first NRL club.
Lillyman (31), now in his seventh season with the Vodafone Warriors, played 62 times for North Queensland from 2003-2008 before arriving in Auckland for the 2009 season.
Tauranga-born Thompson (26) spent four seasons with the Titans and two with Wests Tigers before signing with the Vodafone Warriors late last year.
They are now poised for a 200-100 milestone celebration when the Vodafone Warriors meet Canberra at Mount Smart Stadium on Saturday, June 27 (5.00pm kick-off) on what will also double as a #OnesieParty for members and fans.
While Lillyman and Thompson are closing in on notable achievements so, too, is halfback Shaun Johnson. He plays his 97th match this weekend leaving him on course for his 100th against the Roosters at Allianz Stadium in round 19 on July 19; in a coincidence he made his debut against the same team and at the same venue in 2011. He is also in sight of reaching 500 career points with his total standing at 491.
Left edge outside backs Manu Vatuvei and Solomone Kata are leading a tight battle in the race to be the team’s leading try scorer. They account for approaching half the team’s 48 tries so far with 21 between them, Kata with 11 in 13 games and Vatuvei with 10 in 12. There’s a big gap back to their nearest challengers Tuimoala Lolohea and Jonathan Wright who have four each.
Opposite Vatuvei and Kata will be a Titans right-side attack that has been even more prolific with centre James Roberts (13) and wing Anthony Don (11) boasting 24 tries in total.
In another feature five members of the 2010 NYC premiership-winning Vodafone Junior Warriors have been named in the two squads – Johnson, Sebastine Ikahihifo and Charlie Gubb for the Vodafone Warriors and Mark Ioane and Matt Robinson for Gold Coast. Four players from the 2011 NYC premiers have also been named – Ikahihifo, Konrad Hurrell and Siliva Havili for the Vodafone Warriors and Agnatius Paasi for Gold Coast.
FIVE KEY FEATURES
#1 BEN MATULINO | Big Ben has been consistently impressive throughout the season so far, producing one of his best efforts against the Roosters last week. He carried the ball 20 times, made 183 metres and also came up with 26 tackles and no misses.
#2 SEBASTINE IKAHIHIFO | Ikahihifo was outstanding in just his fourth NRL appearance of the season against the Roosters last week. He made 148 metres from 16 runs; Ben Matulino was the only forward from either side to make more metres.
#3 SOLOMONE KATA | Of all the rookies on show in the NRL this season, Kata is inarguably up among the most impressive. He has played all 13 matches so far, picking up a double last week against the Roosters to give him 11 for the season, one ahead of Manu Vatuvei.
#4 SILIVA HAVILI | The 2014 Kiwi comes back into the NRL squad after being used in the New South Wales Cup side last weekend. After Thomas Leuluai was injured against the Eels, Havili was the starting hooker against Newcastle and South Sydney.
#5 JACOB LILLYMAN AND RYAN HOFFMAN | How well the veteran forwards back up from their Origin II exertions in Melbourne is a critical factor for the Vodafone Warriors. Their experience was certainly missed in last week’s clash against the Roosters.
TOP STATS | SATURDAY, JUNE 13 v SYDNEY ROOSTERS | LOST 21-25
Most runs | Ben Matulino 20, Sebastine Ikahihifo 16, Manu Vatuvei 15, Konrad Hurrell 13, Ken Maumalo 13, Simon Mannering 12, Solomone Kata 11, Albert Vete 11, Raymond Faitala-Mariner 10.
Most metres | Ben Matulino 183, Manu Vatuvei 163, Sebastine Ikahihifo 148, Konrad Hurrell 134, Solomone Kata 134, Ken Maumalo 119.
Most tackle breaks | Solomone Kata 9, Manu Vatuvei 5, Ken Maumalo 4, Sebastine Ikahihifo 3.
Most off loads | Albert Vete 3, Konrad Hurrell 3, Shaun Johnson 2, Simon Mannering 2.
Most tackles | Bodene Thompson 46, Simon Mannering 43, Nathan Friend 34, Ben Matulino 26, Raymond Faitala-Mariner 21, Sebastine Ikahihifo 21.
Missed tackles | Ben Matulino 0, Tuimoala Lolohea 0, Konrad Hurrell 0, Jonathan Wright 0.
RECORD | v GOLD COAST TITANS
Overall | Played 17, Vodafone Warriors 10, Titans 7.
Away | Played 9, Vodafone Warriors 5, Titans 4.
200 NRL Games | Jacob Lillyman plays his 199th NRL match.
150 NRL Games for Vodafone Warriors | Jacob Lillyman plays his 137th NRL game for the Vodafone Warriors.
100 NRL Games (all for Vodafone Warriors) | Shaun Johnson plays his 97th NRL match.
100 NRL Games | Bodene Thompson plays his 99th NRL match.
150 NRL Tries | Manu Vatuvei has scored 145 tries in 206 games.
50 NRL Tries | Shaun Johnson 40, Konrad Hurrell 38.
500 NRL Points | Shaun Johnson 491.
10 Tries in 10 Consecutive Seasons | Manu Vatuvei has now scored 10 tries this season to complete the unprecedented feat of scoring 10 tries in 10 consecutive seasons.
GOLD COAST TITANS v VODAFONE WARRIORS
Cbus Super Stadium, Robina
5.30pm, Saturday, June 20
Referees: Matt Cecchin and Gavin Reynolds
1 TUIMOALA LOLOHEA
2 KEN MAUMALO
3 KONRAD HURRELL
4 SOLOMONE KATA
5 MANU VATUVEI
6 CHAD TOWNSEND
7 SHAUN JOHNSON
8 JACOB LILLYMAN
9 NATHAN FRIEND
10 BEN MATULINO
11 BODENE THOMPSON
12 RYAN HOFFMAN
13 SIMON MANNERING (c)
14 SILIVA HAVILI
15 SEBASTINE IKAHIHIFO
16 RAYMOND FAITALA-MARINER
17 CHARLIE GUBB
18 ALBERT VETE
HEAD COACH: ANDREW McFADDEN
BETTING – CHECK OUT ALL THE ODDS WWW.TAB.CO.NZ
Head to head | Gold Coast $1.95, Vodafone Warriors $1.80
SKY SPORT 2: Live from 7.00pm NZT (kick-off 7.30pm), Saturday, June 20