Bunty Afoa during the Junior Warriors v Junior Storm match. NYC Holden Cup U20s Rugby League. Mt Smart Stadium, Auckland. New Zealand. Sunday 12 July 2015. Copyright Photo: Andrew Cornaga / www.Photosport.nz

NYC FINALS | LATE MAIL

Front rower Bunty Afoa will become the 14th Vodafone Junior Warriors player to appear in 50 NYC matches when he takes the field in the club’s sudden-death semi-final against the Brisbane Broncos at 1300SMILES Stadium in Townsville tonight (5.00pm kick-off local time; 7.00pm NZT).

Afoa, who turned 19 just last month, returns after a knee injury threatened to stall him on 49 career appearances.

It forced him to miss the last regular season match of the year against the Bulldogs and last week’s preliminary final over the Sydney Roosters.

However, he was cleared to make his comeback this week, giving him the chance to reach the 50-game milestone after being named the club’s Vodafone NYC Player of the Year and winner of the prestigious Sonny Fai Medal.

In a year in which he has also made his New South Wales Cup debut, Afoa has strung together a string of consistently outstanding performances. He is only the second player to hit the 50-game mark for the club this season after fullback Brad Abbey achieved the feat against the Bulldogs.

The full list is: 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), Brad Abbey (51), Carlos Tuimavave (51), Omar Slaimankhel (51), Sam Lisone (50) and Siuatonga Likiliki (50).   

Coach Kelvin Wright has made one change for tonight’s clash with Kauri Aupouri, originally named as 18th man, starting at hooker replacing Casey Lafaele who has been ruled out with an ankle injury.

The Broncos, who finished the regular season in third spot, lost 24-36 to North Queensland last week while the Vodafone Warriors beat the Roosters 32-22.

 

VODAFONE JUNIOR WARRIORS v BRISBANE BRONCOS

1300SMILES Stadium, Townsville

5.00pm, Saturday, September 19

Referees: Adam Gee and Peter Gough

 

VODAFONE JUNIOR WARRIORS

1 BRAD ABBEY

2 TOMAS AOAKE

3 MARATA NIUKORE

4 SEMISI TYRELL

5 PAUL ULBERG

6 ATA HINGANO

7 ERIN CLARK

8 BUNTY AFOA

18 KAURI AUPOURI

10 PAUL TULI

11 OFAHIKI OGDEN

12 MATIU LOVE-HENRY

13 JAZZ TEVAGA (c)

Interchange:

14 TYLER MOHI

15 MATTAIS HEIMULI

16 AMONI TUFUI

17 TUALIMA TUALIMA

COACH | KELVIN WRIGHT