In the tightest voting so far, Clinton Toopi and Brent Tate have come through to take the two spots in the centres in the Vodafone Warriors’ People's Choice 20th Anniversary Team.
Toopi (Vodafone Warrior #66) was first by a reasonable margin in a field of 12 contenders but just a few votes covered the next three highest-polling players Brent Tate, Nigel Vagana and Vinnie Anderson.
In the end Tate (#137) edged Vagana (#32) and Anderson (#100) in a vote which couldn’t have been much closer.
In 129 appearances for the Vodafone Warriors from 1999-2006, Toopi distinguished himself as one of the most lethal centres in the game. He scored 57 tries – fourth equal on the club’s all-time list – and was one of the Vodafone Warriors’ best performers in their run of three consecutive finals campaigns in 2001, 2002 and 2003; he was the team’s top try scorer in 2002 (18 tries) and 2003 (17 tries). He also underlined his quality at international level, twice scoring hat-tricks in Tests against the Kangaroos in 2003 and 2005.
Tate joined the Vodafone Warriors from Brisbane in 2008 and wasted no time impressing at his new club. While a second ACL knee injury restricted him to 48 appearances in his three years in Auckland, Tate was held in the highest regard, admired for his toughness, competitiveness and his all-round quality as a centre. He also continued to represent the Kangaroos and the Maroons during his stint at Mount Smart Stadium.
After Toopi, Tate, Vagana and Anderson, Konrad Hurrell and Jerome Ropati were voted fifth and sixth by the fans.
The selection of Toopi and Tate follows the choice of Brent Webb as the top fullback in the www.warriors.kiwi poll while P J Marsh was chosen at hooker, Simon Mannering and Ali Lauitiiti in the second row and Steve Price and Ben Matulino as the props.
Next up will be the wings.
The choices so far have been:
HOOKER | P J MARSH
P J Marsh (#96) | 2002-2003, 35 games, 5 tries, 12 goals, 1 field goal
FULLBACK | BRENT WEBB
Brent Webb (#97) | 2002-2006, 103 games, 39 tries, 27 goals
SECOND ROWERS | SIMON MANNERING AND ALI LAUTIITI
Ali Lauitiiti (#55) | 1998-2004, 115 games, 33 tries
Simon Mannering (#125) | 2005-2015, 227 games, 52 tries
PROPS | STEVE PRICE AND BEN MATULINO
Steve Price (#121) | 2005-2009, 91 games, 13 tries
Ben Matulino (#142) | 2008-2015, 168 games, 15 tries
CENTRES | CLINTON TOOPI AND BRENT TATE
Clinton Toopi (#66) | 1999-2006, 129 games, 57 tries
Brent Tate (#137) | 2008-2010, 48 games, 12 tries
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