Vodafone Warriors front rower Ben Matulino has been churning out big minutes in the opening rounds of the season and he’s in line for another long shift in his 179th NRL match on Saturday night.
It doesn’t come much tougher for Matulino or for the Vodafone Warriors when they face Manly at Mount Smart Stadium (7.30pm kick-off).
Manly has won nine of the last 10 games against the Vodafone Warriors, the one loss – 16-18 at Mount Smart Stadium in 2013 – representing the only occasion Matulino has savoured success in 12 matches he has played against the Sea Eagles since his debut in 2008.
Now in his ninth NRL season, the club’s 2015 Vodafone Player of the Year has consistently been one of the Vodafone Warriors’ best performers so far in 2016.
He has twice been voted the team’s player of the day by the players and coaching staff (against Melbourne and Newcastle) while Fox Sports awarded him the man of match accolade after last Sunday’s 32-28 golden point thriller against the Sydney Roosters.
In the first five rounds of the season he has clocked up 53 minutes against Wests Tigers, 64 against Brisbane, 56 against Melbourne, 70 against Newcastle and 69 against the Roosters – an average of 62 minutes a game. His average workload per game is 15 runs, 120 metres and 30 tackles while he again ranks among the top few off loaders with 12 in total.
Now 27, Matulino was the first NYC graduate to reach both the 100-game and 150-game NRL milestones while he is just behind Brisbane’s Andrew McCullough in the hunt to be the first to reach 200 games.
After this Saturday night’s contest, Matulino will be able to look forward to what’s always a highlight for him – being back in his home town for the Vodafone Warriors’ ‘away’ game against Canterbury-Bankstown at Wellington’s Westpac Stadium on Saturday, April 16 (7.30pm kick-off). The Te Aroha Eels junior revels in any opportunity he has to play in front of his family and friends.