On a day when Mason Lino is welcomed as the club’s newest NRL player, 10-season veteran Sam Rapira and a number of his team-mates will be in focus when they’re farewelled after the Vodafone Warriors’ last home game of the season at Mount Smart Stadium tonight.
Lino was confirmed as a starter yesterday to face the high-flying North Queensland Cowboys in the 24th-round encounter kicking off at 7.30pm (game day theme: Members’ Appreciation Day; match day sponsor: Woodstock).
While there’s excitement about Lino (21) becoming the club’s 10th NRL debutant this season, game day will also be tinged with emotion and sadness when departing players are farewelled in front of members and fans after the fulltime siren.
Heading the cast of those leaving at the end of the season is Rapira, who is finishing up in the NRL to continue his playing career with Huddersfield in the English Super League. Rapira (28) made his debut in 2006 and has amassed 173 appearances in all, sixth on the club’s all-time list. Holding the record for the most games in the front row for the Vodafone Warriors, Rapira sadly can’t play one last time at his beloved Mount Smart Stadium tonight due to a one-match suspension.
While he will be acknowledged so will three players who will take the field for the last time at home tonight; hooker Nathan Friend (making his 84th appearance for the club), fullback Sam Tomkins (36th) and centre Dominique Peyroux (22nd).
Others given a send-off tonight will be standoff Chad Townsend (40 games), back rower Sebastine Ikahihifo (37 games), centre Ngani Laumape (30 games), fullback/wing Glen Fisiiahi (25 games) and Siliva Havili (14 games). Also acknowledged will by departing Vodafone Junior Warriors fullback Brad Abbey along with props Suaia Matagi (36 games) and Nathaniel Peteru who left earlier in the season.
Earlier in the game day programme before the NRL game there’ll be a special big screen presentation confirming the Vodafone Warriors’ People’s Choice 20th Anniversary Team as voted by members and fans through a www.warriors.kiwi season-long promotion. While most of the team has been announced tonight the players chosen at halfback and standoff will be revealed along with four players on the interchange bench.
With the match marking Members’ Appreciation Day, there will be a series of member-related activities and promotions.
One feature will be the members’ march to recognise and thank committed Vodafone Warriors members for their ongoing and valued support. This is timed to start about 6.40pm.
There’ll also be a draw to win the Suzuki Swift Road Warrior with five lucky Vodafone Warriors members in with a chance.
And after the game all members will be asked to gather in the lower level of the East Stand for a first-ever ‘family’ photo with the club's players and all management and staff.
FIVE KEY FEATURES
#1 SAM RAPIRA | While he’s not able to make one last appearance at Mount Smart Stadium, Rapira will be fondly farewelled after serving the Vodafone Warriors with such distinction across 10 seasons. He has been a true champion for the club.
#2 MASON LINO | He helped the club to NYC premiership glory less than a year ago and tonight he makes the step up to the NRL with his debut coming against none other than Johnathan Thurston and his North Queensland side.
#3 BODENE THOMPSON | The club’s first-choice back rowers are reunited at last tonight with Thompson returning from an ankle injury. He’s down to start from the bench but will have the chance to resume his combination with Simon Mannering and Ryan Hoffman.
#4 SIONE LOUSI | The rangy back rower delivered a superb defensive effort in the Vodafone Warriors’ brave NSW Cup victory over Wests Tigers last weekend. He comes back into the NRL named to start on the right edge.
#5 KONRAD HURRELL | Hurrell was used with good effect from the bench last week, bringing energy to the side when he was injected. More of the same is expected from him today against a team running high in the competition.
RECORD | v NORTH QUEENSLAND
Overall | Played 34, Won 18, Lost 16.
At Mount Smart Stadium | Played 18, Won 13, Lost 5.
MILESTONES WATCH 2015
150 NRL Games for Vodafone Warriors | Jacob Lillyman plays his 145th NRL game for the Vodafone Warriors.
50 NRL Tries | Konrad Hurrell 41.
MILESTONES ACHIEVED IN 2015
20th Anniversary | March 10, 2015 marked the 20th anniversary of the Vodafone Warriors making their debut in the competition against Brisbane on March 10, 1995.
50 NRL Games for Vodafone Warriors | Ben Henry made his 50th NRL appearance for the club on March 15 when he lined up against Canberra.
200 NRL Games | Nathan Friend made his 200th NRL appearance on March 21 when he lined up against Parramatta; it was his 65th game for the Vodafone Warriors after previously playing one game for Brisbane, 34 for Melbourne and 100 for Gold Coast.
Jacob Lillyman made his 200th NRL appearance on June 27 when he lined up against Canberra; it was his 138th game for the Vodafone Warriors after previously playing 62 games for North Queensland.
250 NRL Games | Ryan Hoffman made his 250th NRL appearance on April 6 when he lined up against his former club Melbourne; he played 245 games for Melbourne.
200 NRL Games (all for Vodafone Warriors) | Manu Vatuvei made his 200th NRL appearance for the club against Wests Tigers on April 11; he is the third player to appear in 200 games for the Vodafone Warriors (the others being Stacey Jones and Simon Mannering).
10 NRL Seasons for Vodafone Warriors | When Sam Rapira made his 170th career appearance against the Titans on Anzac Day he became the seventh player to represent the Vodafone Warriors in 10 NRL seasons after Stacey Jones, Awen Guttenbeil, Lance Hohaia, Jerome Ropati, Manu Vatuvei and Simon Mannering).
200th Vodafone Warrior | Raymond Faitala-Mariner became the club’s 200th first-grade player when he made his debut against Gold Coast on Anzac Day.
500 Games in the NRL | The Vodafone Warriors’ match against Parramatta on May 16 was the club’s 500th in the competition since debuting in 1995.
100 NRL Games | Jonathan Wright made his 100th NRL appearance when he lined up against one of his former clubs Parramatta on May 16; it was his ninth game for the Vodafone Warriors after previously playing 12 games for Parramatta, 38 games for Canterbury-Bankstown and 41 games for Cronulla.
Bodene Thompson made his 100th NRL appearance when he lined up against Canberra on June 21 after previously playing 49 games for Gold Coast and 36 for Wests Tigers.
50 NRL Games | Chad Townsend made his 50th NRL appearance when he lined up against South Sydney on June 6; it was his 31st match for the Vodafone Warriors after previously playing 19 games for Cronulla.
10 Tries in 10 Consecutive Seasons | When Manu Vatuvei scored against the Sydney Roosters on June 6, he completed the unprecedented feat of scoring 10 tries or more in 10 consecutive seasons (2006-2015).
500 Points in the NRL | Shaun Johnson passed 500 career points in the NRL on his way to scoring 20 points against Gold Coast on June 20; he is the fourth player to reach the mark for the Vodafone Warriors after Ivan Cleary, Stacey Jones and Manu Vatuvei).
100 NRL Games (all for Vodafone Warriors) | Shaun Johnson made his 100th NRL appearance when he lined up against the Sydney Roosters on July 19.
250 Home Games in NRL | The Vodafone Warriors played their 250th home game when they faced Cronulla on August 1. Their first 250 home games were split between Mount Smart Stadium (242), Eden Park (6) and Westpac Stadium (2). They won 143 games of those 250 games for a winning strike rate of just over 57.00 per cent.
VODAFONE WARRIORS v NORTH QUEENSLAND COWBOYS
Mount Smart Stadium, Auckland
7.30pm, Saturday, August 22
Referees: Matt Cecchin and Adam Devcich
1 SAM TOMKINS
2 KEN MAUMALO
3 DOMINIQUE PEYROUX
4 SOLOMONE KATA
5 JONATHAN WRIGHT
20 MASON LINO
7 TUIMOALA LOLOHEA
8 JACOB LILLYMAN
9 NATHAN FRIEND
10 ALBERT VETE
11 SIONE LOUSI
12 RYAN HOFFMAN
13 SIMON MANNERING (c)
14 KONRAD HURRELL
15 BODENE THOMPSON
16 SAM LISONE
17 CHARLIE GUBB
18 MATT ALLWOOD
HEAD COACH: ANDREW McFADDEN
NORTH QUEENSLAND COWBOYS
1 LACHLAN COOTE
2 MATTHEW WRIGHT
3 JUSTIN O’NEILL
4 KANE LINNETT
5 ANTONIO WINTERSTEIN
6 MICHAEL MORGAN
7 JOHNATHAN THURSTON (c)
8 MATT SCOTT (c)
9 JAKE GRANVILLE
10 JAMES TAMOU
11 JOHN ASIATA
12 ETHAN LOWE
13 JASON TAUMALOLO
14 RORY KOSTJASYN
15 COEN HESS
16 SCOTT BOLTON
17 BEN HANNANT
COACH: PAUL GREEN
BETTING – CHECK OUT ALL THE ODDS WWW.TAB.CO.NZ
Head to head | Vodafone Warriors $4.20, North Queensland Cowboys $1.20
SKY SPORT 2: Live from 7.00pm NZT (kick-off 7.30pm), Saturday, August 22