Rookie centre Solomone Kata has one last chance tomorrow to deny Manu Vatuvei the honour of being the Vodafone Warriors’ top try-scorer for a ninth consecutive NRL season.
The 29-year-old Vatuvei’s campaign ended with a shoulder injury – and subsequent surgery – after the loss to St George Illawarra in Wellington on August 8.
It has left him with 11 tries from 16 appearances, a total he shares with Kata.
Kata scored 11 tries in his first 13 matches of the season but hasn’t added to his total in his last 10 outings since a double against the Roosters on June 13.
Vatuvei has been the Vodafone Warriors’ leading try-scorer – or top equal – in each of the last eight seasons with annual tallies of 10 in 23 games in 2007, 16 in 17 games in 2008, 13 in 19 in 2009, 20 in 19 in 2010, 12 in 19 in 2011, 12 in 20 in 2012, 16 in 19 in 2013 and 17 in 23 games last year.
Kata also shares another impressive achievement in his debut season as one of only three players in the squad to appear in every game this year. He’ll make his 24th consecutive outing tomorrow as will captain Simon Mannering and hooker Nathan Friend.
Friend missed the first three rounds of the 2013 season but will tomorrow make his 69th consecutive appearance in what will be his 86th and final game for the Vodafone Warriors before rejoining the Gold Coast Titans.
It will be the 65th match on end for Mannering. The last match he missed was against the Melbourne Storm in round seven in 2013, the only game he hasn’t played in the last three seasons.
Mannering underlined his resilience and durability as well as his commitment to the club by defying a debilitating virus to line up against Wests Tigers last Sunday. Team-mates and medical staff urged him not to play but Mannering wouldn’t have it; he lasted 68 minutes making 30 tackles and missing just one to take his tackle count for the year past 1050 (only Brisbane’s Andrew McCullough has made more tackles).
The Vodafone Warriors go into tomorrow’s encounter desperate to end a run of seven losses since beating Melbourne in July.
They’ve been boosted by Ben Matulino’s return from injury but still have a side shorn of so many frontline players. Sam Tomkins is the latest to join the high-profile casualties with his knee injury denying him a farewell appearance; also in the rehab room are Manu Vatuvei, Jacob Lillyman, Shaun Johnson, Thomas Leuluai, Ben Henry and Ngani Laumape.
With Tomkins out, Lolohea will start at fullback for the 11th time in what will be his 23rd appearance of the season.
Of the side that started the season against Newcastle in March, only two players remain in the same starting backline positions tomorrow – Lolohea at fullback and Chad Townsend at standoff (Kata was one the wing).
FIVE KEY FEATURES
#1 BEN MATULINO | Big Ben brings back invaluable experience to the Vodafone Warriors’ front row after serving a three-match suspension. Last week 2015 rookie Albert Vete was the Vodafone Warriors’ most experienced prop on the field playing just his 20th game.
#2 CHAD TOWNSEND | The popular Townsend makes his 41st and final appearance for the club before returning to Sydney. His experience will provide support for rookie halfback Mason Lino with fullback Tuimoala Lolohea adding playmaking options.
#3 NATHAN FRIEND | The workaholic hooker with the distinctive headgear lines up for the 86th and last time for the Vodafone Warriors before returning to the Titans to finish his playing career. This is his 24th straight appearance of the season.
#4 SOLOMONE KATA | The 2015 rookie is one of only three players to line up in all 24 games for the club this season, an outstanding feat for a player in his debut season. He’s also the club’s equal top try-scorer with Manu Vatuvei.
#5 SIMON MANNERING | Mannering defied illness to lead his troops against Wests Tigers last week. The captain wasn’t in any real state to play but soldiered on gallantly for 68 minutes making 30 tackles while missing just one, again exemplifying his team-first ethos.
TOP STATS | SUNDAY, AUGUST 30 | v WESTS TIGERS | LOST 16-50
Penalties | Vodafone Warriors 6, Tigers 8.
Completions | Vodafone Warriors 26/32 (81%), Tigers 32/38 (84%).
Total runs | Vodafone Warriors 145, Tigers 167.
Metres gained | Vodafone Warriors 1348, Tigers 1804.
Dummy half runs (metres) | Vodafone Warriors 8 (60), Tigers 16 (166).
Line breaks | Vodafone Warriors 9, Tigers 4.
Tackle breaks | Vodafone Warriors 21, Tigers 46.
Kicks (kicking metres) | Vodafone Warriors 16 (334), Tigers 17 (265).
Tackles | Vodafone Warriors 312, Tigers 258.
Missed tackles | Vodafone Warriors 46, Tigers 21.
Offloads | Vodafone Warriors 17, Tigers 9.
Errors | Vodafone Warriors 7, Tigers 7.
Runs | Ryan Hoffman 14, Bodene Thompson 14, Sebastine Ikahihifo 13, Albert Vete 12, Matt Allwood 12, Jonathan Wright 10, Dominique Peyroux 10, Tuimoala Lolohea 10.
Metres gained | Albert Vete 142, Sebastine Ikahihifo 142, Matt Allwood 128, Ryan Hoffman 122, Bodene Thompson 121, Jonathan Wright 109.
Tackle breaks | Albert Vete 4, Sam Tomkins 3, Ryan Hoffman 3, Jonathan Wright 2, Sebastine Ikahihifo 2, Konrad Hurrell 2.
Off loads | Albert Vete 3, Ryan Hoffman 3, Ben Matulino 2, Charlie Gubb 2, Sam Lisone 2.
Tackles | Nathan Friend 48, Bodene Thompson 39, Charlie Gubb 31, Simon Mannering 30, Ryan Hoffman 28.
Missed tackles | Sam Lisone 0, Sione Lousi 0.
RECORD | v BULLDOGS
Overall | Played 32, Won 12, Drawn 2, Lost 18.
Away | Played 14, Won 4, Drawn 2, Lost 8.
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 for a winning strike rate of just over 57.00 per cent.
VODAFONE WARRIORS v CANTERBURY-BANKSTOWN BULLDOGS
ANZ Stadium, Sydney
6.30pm, Sunday, September 06
Referees: Ashley Klein and Grant Atkins
1 TUIMOALA LOLOHEA
2 MATT ALLWOOD
3 DOMINIQUE PEYROUX
4 SOLOMONE KATA
5 JONATHAN WRIGHT
6 CHAD TOWNSEND
7 MASON LINO
8 ALBERT VETE
9 NATHAN FRIEND
10 BEN MATULINO
11 BODENE THOMPSON
12 RYAN HOFFMAN
13 SIMON MANNERING (c)
14 KONRAD HURRELL
15 RAYMOND FAITALA-MARINER
16 SEBASTINE IKAHIHIFO
17 SAM LISONE
18 SILIVA HAVILI
HEAD COACH: ANDREW McFADDEN
1 BRETT MORRIS
2 CURTIS RONA
3 JOSH MORRIS
4 TIM LAFAI
5 SAM PERRETT
6 JOSH REYNOLDS
7 MOSES MBYE
8 AIDEN TOLMAN
9 DAMIEN COOK
10 JAMES GRAHAM
11 JOSH JACKSON
12 FRANK PRITCHARD
13 GREG EASTWOOD
14 SAM KASIANO
15 SHAUN LANE
16 DAVID KLEMMER
17 TIM BROWNE
19 LLOYD PERRETT
20 CHASE STANLEY
COACH: DES HASLER
BETTING – CHECK OUT ALL THE ODDS WWW.TAB.CO.NZ
Head to head | Vodafone Warriors $7.00, Bulldogs $1.08
SKY SPORT 2: Live from 8.00pm NZT (kick-off 8.30pm NZT), Sunday, September 06