If March 10, 1995 is forever linked to the Brisbane Broncos in the Vodafone Warriors’ annals, then March 24, 2001 will never be far behind.
For it was on that day – night to be precise – 15 years ago that the club was at last able to celebrate its first win over the Broncos after more than six seasons and nine losses on end.
A crowd of almost 14,000 was at Ericsson Stadium to witness the incomparable Stacey Jones snap a field goal to break a 12-12 deadlock to give his side a famous 13-12 win.
On Saturday the traditional foes collide for the 38th time and the 19th at Mount Smart Stadium.
That night back in 2001, an 18-year-old forward by the name of Corey Parker made his NRL debut off the bench and scored one of the Broncos’ two tries. Now in his 16th season, Brisbane’s 2016 captain has missed very few encounters between the two clubs since and is set to return to Auckland for what will be his 335th NRL game (provided he recovers well from Queensland’s 6-4 victory over New South Wales in last night’s gruelling opening State of Origin battle in Sydney).
Also still in circulation, although not at NRL level at the moment, is Ali Lauitiiti who started at prop for the Vodafone Warriors in the 2001 win. He’s now in his 19th season since his first-grade debut, providing his hand of experience to the club’s Intrust Super Premiership side running second in its competition.
Three others players from the line-up used that night all have roles with the club; Jones is coaching the ISP side, Justin Morgan is one of the NRL squad’s assistant coaches and Shontayne Hape is part of the membership team.
Since the 2001 win the Vodafone Warriors have gone on to fashion one of their best records against rival clubs, winning 15 of the last 28 match-ups. More impressively they have won 10 of the last 14 Mount Smart Stadium encounters against Brisbane although the Broncos triumphed in the most recent in March last year; the only other times the Broncos have won in Auckland since 2001 were in 2009, 2006 and 2004.
The Vodafone Warriors go into Saturday’s match with a number of milestones looming large.
In his first NRL match since April 25, crowd favourite Manu Vatuvei will resume his quest to become only the 11th player in the competition’s history to score 150 tries (he needs two more). He'll also be playing his 95th NRL match at Mount Smart Stadium.
Hooker Issac Luke plays his 199th career match (his 200th set to be away against Newcastle on June 11) and loose forward Simon Mannering his 246th as he eyes becoming only the second player after Stacey Jones to reach the 250-game mark for the Vodafone Warriors.
The Vodafone Warriors will be playing their 248th match at Mount Smart Stadium with the landmark 250th coming against Gold Coast on July 2.
10 OF THE BEST AT MOUNT SMART STADIUM
March 24, 2001 | Vodafone Warriors 13, Brisbane Broncos 12
August 18, 2002 | Vodafone Warriors 18, Brisbane Broncos 4
August 24, 2003 | Vodafone Warriors 22, Brisbane Broncos 14
June 26, 2005 | Vodafone Warriors 30, Brisbane Broncos 18
March 25, 2007 | Vodafone Warriors 24, Brisbane Broncos 14
August 9, 2008 | Vodafone Warriors 16, Brisbane Broncos 12
August 27, 2010 | Vodafone Warriors 36, Brisbane Broncos 4
May 5, 2012 | Vodafone Warriors 30, Brisbane Broncos 20
June 30, 2013 | Vodafone Warriors 18, Brisbane Broncos 16
June 21, 2014 | Vodafone Warriors 19, Brisbane Broncos 10
FIVE KEY FEATURES
#1 MANU VATUVEI | The big man’s 2016 campaign has been a stop-start affair until now but on Saturday he has the chance to get it rolling properly in just his second NRL outing of the year in front of the Mount Smart Stadium faithful. Welcome back to ‘The Beast’.
#2 SOLOMONE KATA | The explosive Tongan rocket lost a perfect record when he was forced to sit out the Canberra match, his one-game suspension ending a run of 34 straight appearances since his debut in the opening round of the 2015 season.
#3 NATHANIEL ROACHE | The accomplished Roache, still NYC-eligible this year, began the season as the second-choice hooker only for an ankle injury to side-line him in the third. Returns to the NRL line-up after an impressive comeback with the ISP side.
#4 ALBERT VETE | The big front rower is back in the NRL frame after last appearing in the sixth-round clash against Manly on April 16. Since then he has been consistently impressive for the ISP side averaging more than 71 minutes and 200-plus metres a game.
#5 CHARLIE GUBB | The energiser is back on the bench after having one match for the ISP side on May 22. While he didn’t play as many minutes as hoped for due to a head knock, he returns to the NRL side to inject his special brand of enthusiasm.
VODAFONE WARRIORS v BRISBANE BRONCOS
Mount Smart Stadium, Auckland
5.05pm, Saturday, June 4
Referees: Henry Perenana and Chris James
1 TUIMOALA LOLOHEA (Marist Saints)
2 DAVID FUSITU’A (Marist Saints)
3 BLAKE AYSHFORD (Paddington Tigers)
4 SOLOMONE KATA (Howick Hornets)
5 MANU VATUVEI (Otara Scorpions)
6 THOMAS LEULUAI (Papatoetoe Panthers)
7 SHAUN JOHNSON (Hibiscus Coast Raiders)
8 JACOB LILLYMAN (Richmond Rovers)
9 ISSAC LUKE (Hawera Hawks)
10 BEN MATULINO (Te Aroha Eels)
11 BODENE THOMPSON (Tauranga City Sharks)
12 RYAN HOFFMAN (Campbelltown Collegians) (c)
13 SIMON MANNERING (Te Aroha Eels)
14 NATHANIEL ROACHE (Mount Albert Lions)
15 SAM LISONE (Otara Scorpions)
16 ALBERT VETE (Mangere East Hawks)
17 CHARLIE GUBB (University Hunters)
18 LIGI SAO (Manurewa Marlins)
HEAD COACH | ANDREW McFADDEN
1 DARIUS BOYD
2 LACHLAN MARANTA
3 JACK REED
4 JAMES ROBERTS
5 JORDAN KAHU
6 ANTHONY MILFORD
7 BEN HUNT
8 JOSH McGUIRE
9 TRAVIS WADDELL
10 ADAM BLAIR
11 ALEX GLENN
12 SAM THAIDAY
13 COREY PARKER (c)
14 JARROD WALLACE
15 TEVITA PANGAI JUNIOR
16 JOE OFAHENGAUE
17 KODI NIKORIMA
18 HERMAN ESE’ESE
19 JAI ARROW
COACH | WAYNE BENNETT
TOP STATS | v CANBERRA RAIDERS | LOST 12-38
Penalties | Vodafone Warriors 8, Canberra 10.
Completions | Vodafone Warriors 27/37 (73%), Canberra 27/38 (71%).
Total runs | Vodafone Warriors 154, Canberra 165.
Metres gained | Vodafone Warriors 1273, Canberra 1430.
Line breaks | Vodafone Warriors 1, Canberra 5.
Tackle breaks | Vodafone Warriors 18, Canberra 30.
Kicks (kicking metres) | Vodafone Warriors 17 (286), Canberra 15 (358).
Tackles Made | Vodafone Warriors 338, Canberra 303.
Missed tackles | Vodafone Warriors 30, Canberra 18.
Offloads | Vodafone Warriors 3, Canberra 5.
Errors | Vodafone Warriors 10, Canberra 11.
Runs | Vodafone Warriors: Ryan Hoffman 15, Sam Lisone 13, Bodene Thompson 12, Issac Luke 12, Tuimoala Lolohea 11, Matt Allwood 11, Ben Matulino 10, Jacob Lillyman 10. Canberra: Jordan Rapana 16, Paul Vaughan 15, Luke Bateman 15, Edrick Lee 12, Shannon Boyd 12, Jack Wighton 12, Joseph Leilua 11, Jeff Lima 11, Josh Papalii 11.
Metres gained | Vodafone Warriors: Ryan Hoffman 129, Sam Lisone 120, Bodene Thompson 111, Tuimoala Lolohea 102. Canberra: Jordan Rapana 162, Edrick Lee 140, Paul Vaughan 135, Luke Bateman 112, Shannon Boyd 106, Jeff Lima 102.
Tackle breaks | Vodafone Warriors: Sal Lisone 4, Bodene Thompson 4. Canberra: Jordan Rapana 7, Josh Papalii 4, Blake Austin 3.
Off loads | Vodafone Warriors: Jonathan Wright 1, Issac Luke 1, Bodene Thompson 1. Canberra: Josh Papalii 3.
Tackles made | Vodafone Warriors: Simon Mannering 45, Issac Luke 36, Ben Matulino 33, Bodene Thompson 33, Ryan Hoffman 27, Jacob Lillyman 26, Shaun Johnson 22, Jazz Tevaga 22. Canberra: Elliott Whitehead 39, Luke Bateman 36, Josh Hodgson 29.
Missed tackles | Vodafone Warriors: Sam Lisone 0, Tuimoala Lolohea 0, Jonathan Wright 0. Canberra: Elliott Whitehead 0, Clay Priest 0, Jordan Rapana 0.
Supports | Vodafone Warriors: Simon Mannering 15, Thomas Leuluai 15, Shaun Johnson 14, Matt Allwood 11, Ben Matulino 11, Blake Ayshford 9. Canberra: Joseph Leilua 12, Aidan Sezer 12, Jarrod Croker 11, Jack Wighton 10.
Decoys | Vodafone Warriors: Ben Matulino 9, Sam Lisone 8, Bodene Thompson 7, Simon Mannering 6, Ryan Hoffman 6, Jacob Lillyman 6. Canberra: Elliott Whitehead 7, Josh Papalii 6.
RECORD | v BRISBANE BRONCOS
Overall Record | Played 37, Vodafone Warriors 15, Brisbane 22.
Home | Played 18, Vodafone Warriors 10, Brisbane 8.
Last 10 Games at Mount Smart Stadium | Vodafone Warriors 7, Brisbane 3.
Last 10 Games (home and away) | Vodafone Warriors 4, Brisbane 6.
Vodafone Warriors debuts | Roger Tuivasa-Sheck (#203), Blake Ayshford (#204), Jeff Robson (#205), Issac Luke (#206), Nathaniel Roache (#207) and James Gavet (#208) made their debuts for the Vodafone Warriors against Wests Tigers at Campbelltown Stadium on March 5 (Round 1).
Jazz Tevaga (#209) made his club debut for the Vodafone Warriors against Melbourne at Mount Smart Stadium on March 20 (Round 3).
Ligi Sao (#210) made his club debut for the Vodafone Warriors against Canterbury-Bankstown at Westpac Stadium on April 16 (Round 7).
Shaun Lane (#211) made his club debut for the Vodafone Warriors against St George Illawarra at Mount Smart Stadium on May 1 (Round 9).
Toafofoa Sipley (#212) made his club debut for the Vodafone Warriors against St George Illawarra at Mount Smart Stadium on May 1 (Round 9).
NRL debuts | Nathaniel Roache made his NRL debut for the Vodafone Warriors against Wests Tigers at Campbelltown Stadium on March 5 (Round 1).
Jazz Tevaga (#209) made his NRL debut for the Vodafone Warriors against Melbourne at Mount Smart Stadium on March 20 (Round 3).
Toafofoa Sipley (#212) made his NRL debut for the Vodafone Warriors against St George Illawarra at Mount Smart Stadium on May 1 (Round 9).
Most NRL appearances for Vodafone Warriors | Simon Mannering plays his 246th NRL game (Stacey Jones’ record is 261).
250 NRL games (all for Vodafone Warriors) | Simon Mannering plays his 246th NRL game.
200 NRL games (all for Vodafone Warriors) | Ben Matulino plays his 184th NRL game.
200 NRL games (overall) | Issac Luke plays his 199th NRL game (his 10th for the Vodafone Warriors) after appearing in 188 matches for South Sydney.
150 NRL games for Vodafone Warriors | Jacob Lillyman plays his 157th NRL game for the Vodafone Warriors this week, the 219th of his career including 62 for North Queensland (record for the most games for the club by an Australian player).
150 NRL games (overall) | Blake Ayshford plays his 136th NRL game (his 12th for the Vodafone Warriors) after appearing in 104 for Wests Tigers and 20 for Cronulla.
50 NRL games (all for Vodafone Warriors) | Sione Lousi played his 50th NRL game for the Vodafone Warriors against St George Illawarra on May 1; Tuimoala Lolohea plays his 37th NRL game for the Vodafone Warriors; Solomone Kata plays his 35th NRL game for the Vodafone Warriors.
150 NRL tries | Manu Vatuvei has scored 148 tries in 215 NRL appearances. Only 10 players in history have scored 150 tries in the competition. Vatuvei is 11th-equal on the all-time list, just behind the great Bob Fulton (147). The only current players ahead of him are Billy Slater (172 in 278 games) and Brett Stewart (163 in 228 games).
10 tries or more in a season | Manu Vatuvei has the all-time NRL record having scored 10 tries or more in 10 consecutive seasons from 2006-2015.
600 NRL points | Shaun Johnson has scored 624 points; Manu Vatuvei has scored 592 points.
500 NRL points | Issac Luke has scored 426 points.
50 NRL tries | Shaun Johnson has 51 tries; Blake Ayshford has 40 tries; Issac Luke has 39 tries; Jonathan Wright has 35 tries.
50 NRL games as NRL coach (all for Vodafone Warriors) | Andrew McFadden coaches the Vodafone Warriors for the 55th time. His record is 23 wins, 31 losses.
250 games at Mount Smart Stadium | The Vodafone Warriors play their 248th game at Mount Smart Stadium (they have so far played 244 regular season games plus three home finals).
2000 tries in the NRL | 1952 (1995-2016)
BETTING – CHECK OUT ALL THE ODDS WWW.TAB.CO.NZ
Head to head | Vodafone Warriors $2.40, Brisbane Broncos $1.52
SKY SPORT 2: Live from 4.30pm (kick-off 5.05pm), Saturday, June 4