Fullback Brad Abbey will become the 13th player to appear in 50 NYC games for the Vodafone Junior Warriors when they take on Canterbury-Bankstown in their last regular season clash at ANZ Stadium on Sunday (4.15pm local time; 6.15pm NZT).
Abbey follows Ben Henry (64), John Palavi (63), Mason Lino (62), Adam Tuimavave-Gerrard (58), Siliva Havili (57), Ngataua Hukatai (54), Elijah Taylor (52), Nafe Seluini (52), Carlos Tuimavave (51), Omar Slaimankhel (51), Sam Lisone (50) and Siuatonga Likiliki (50).
Prop Bunty Afoa was also poised to join the 50-game club but he will remain on 49 games with injury ruling him out of this week’s encounter.
Afoa’s injury absence ends his run of appearing in every game this season leaving halfback Erin Clark as the only one of the 36 players used this year who hasn’t missed a match so far. With standoff Ata Hingano playing New South Wales Cup finals football for the Vodafone Warriors this week, Clark moves back into the halves from hooker against the Bulldogs.
As well as Hingano, the Vodafone Junior Warriors will be without centre Marata Niukore and loose forward Jazz Tevaga who are also in the club’s NSW Cup side this week.
The Vodafone Junior Warriors’ 16-16 draw with Wests Tigers last Sunday has effectively guaranteed them an eighth consecutive appearance in the NYC finals since the competition started in 2008; no other club has managed this feat.
The result lifted them to seventh place on 26 points, level with Canberra but with a points for and against differential of plus 80 compared to the Raiders’ minus 191.
By the time the Vodafone Junior Warriors and the Bulldogs meet in the very last match of the regular season on Sunday they will know what will be needed.
As it stands now, Friday night’s 22-all draw between the fifth-placed Sydney Roosters and bottom-of-the-table South Sydney means the highest the Vodafone Junior Warriors can finish is sixth if they beat the Bulldogs and the sixth-placed Wests Tigers lose to St George Illawarra tomorrow.
If Canberra also beats Parramatta on Sunday, the Roosters will finish the regular season fifth on 29 points, the Vodafone Junior Warriors sixth on 28, Canberra seventh on 28 and the Tigers eighth on 27.
The Bulldogs, ninth on 24 points, would draw level with the Vodafone Junior Warriors on 26 with victory on Sunday but their points for and against differential is minus 29.
VODAFONE JUNIOR WARRIORS v CANTERBURY-BANKSTOWN BULLDOGS
ANZ Stadium, Sydney
4.15pm, Sunday, September 06
Referee: Jon Stone
VODAFONE JUNIOR WARRIORS
1 BRAD ABBEY
2 TOMAS AOAKE
3 JUNIOR PAUGA
4 SEMISI TYRELL
5 PAUL ULBERG
6 KAURI AUPOURI
7 ERIN CLARK
8 TUALIMA TUALIMA
9 CASEY LAFAELE
10 PAUL TULI
11 OFAHIKI OGDEN
12 WESLEY TAUTI
13 MATIU LOVE-HENRY
14 TYLER MOHI
15 TYRONE NATHAN
16 ROMAN TUHIMATA
17 AMONI TUFUI
COACH | KELVIN WRIGHT