Jacob Lillyman and Bodene Thompson will deliver a double milestone moment when the Vodafone Warriors host Canberra in Saturday’s 16th-round NRL encounter at Mount Smart Stadium (5.00pm kick-off; match day sponsor: flava).
It will be the 200th career appearance for 31-year-old Queensland Origin prop Lillyman while Kiwi second rower Thompson (26) will be playing his 100th first-grade match.
The clash against the Raiders headlines another tripleheader programme for the club which kicks off with the NYC clash between the fourth-placed Vodafone Junior Warriors and the eighth-ranked Raiders (12.40pm) followed by the Vodafone Warriors (third) taking on the Mounties (second) in the New South Wales Cup (2.40pm kick-off).
Lillyman, who made his 10th Origin appearance for the Maroons last week, is in his seventh season with the Vodafone Warriors after starting with the club in 2009 following 62 outings for the North Queensland Cowboys. He’ll play his 138th match for the Vodafone Warriors this week leaving him on target to top fellow Queenslander Michael Luck’s record for the most games for the club by an Australian player (Luck played 150 times from 2006-2012).
Lillyman goes into the match in career-best form after carting the ball 204 metres from 20 runs when he was used off the bench in last Saturday’s 36-14 win over Gold Coast. His was an outstanding effort just three days after Origin II in Melbourne.
Thompson has played all 14 matches so far this season since joining the Vodafone Warriors from Wests Tigers and previously the Titans. He, too, has been in superb form collecting back-to-back players’ player of the day awards after the wins against Parramatta and Newcastle last month.
“Jake has been a terrific servant for the Vodafone Warriors,” said Vodafone Warriors head coach Andrew McFadden.
“He has all the qualities we want to see in our players. He puts in every time he takes the field and is consistently among our best. It’s great to see him reaching the 200-game mark.
“Bodene has been a great acquisition for the club as we expected he would be. He works so hard and is adding more to his game as the season goes on. Like Jake, he’s so consistent.”
Coming back into the line-up for the Canberra contest are utility Tuimoala Lolohea and prop Albert Vete. Lolohea replaces right wing Ken Maumalo, who is out this week after leaving the field with an ankle injury early in the second half on Saturday night; and Vete, who was 18th man against the Titans, returns on the bench for his 12th appearance replacing Sebastine Ikahihifo.
The Lillyman-Thompson twin achievements will play out in front of members and fans on a special night for the club as it marks its 20th anniversary season with its second #OnesieParty in support of the Jammies in June. The programme, run by the Vodafone Warriors’ major charity partner Kidz First Children’s Hospital, aims to reduce high rates of preventable illnesses by providing children in need with pyjamas.
Wearing their Vodafone Warriors onesies, Lillyman and Thompson have coincidentally featured as faces of the club’s promotion of Saturday’s #OnesieParty themed occasion.
The Vodafone Warriors are seeking their fifth straight win against the Raiders. In 33 clashes between the two sides they are just behind on the wins ledger 16-17 but have a 10-6 record in 16 matches at home. Heading into this round the home side is seventh on the table with 16 points with the Raiders ninth on 14.
VODAFONE WARRIORS v CANBERRA RAIDERS
Mount Smart Stadium, Auckland
5.00pm, Saturday, June 27
1 SAM TOMKINS
2 TUIMOALA LOLOHEA
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 RAYMOND FAITALA-MARINER
16 CHARLIE GUBB
17 ALBERT VETE
HEAD COACH: ANDREW McFADDEN