While the Vodafone Warriors’ clash against the Sydney Roosters on Sunday is very much about the here and now, it’s strongly flavoured with a heritage feel by dint of the home side wearing a replica strip so evocative for players, members and fans alike.
It sheets back to the memorable 2002 season when the Vodafone Warriors went where no other side had been before in the club’s history by first taking the minor premiership (not achieved since) and then going all the way to the grand final (matched in 2011).
The home kit from that season was and remains one of the most popular the club has produced while the deeds on the field were exceptional.
In the regular season the Vodafone Warriors finished on 38 points with a 17-7 record. They added victories over Canberra and Cronulla in the play-offs before losing the grand final to give them an overall 19-8 record.
The Sydney Roosters bookended the season of achievement.
After a bye in the opening round, the Vodafone Warriors beat the Roosters 21-14 in the second round at Ericsson Stadium but fell 8-30 to them in the season decider. There was another meeting during the year as well, the Roosters winning emphatically 44-0 at the Sydney Football Stadium in round 24.
Overall the Vodafone Warriors have fared well against one of the competition’s glamour clubs.
The first encounter in the foundation season in 1995 was in Auckland, the home side winning 26-22 and prevailing again 25-14 when the teams met at Ericsson Stadium the following season. The record favours the Vodafone Warriors 19-16 with one match drawn 31-31 in one of the NRL’s most memorable contests.
Sunday’s match (6.10pm kick-off; match day sponsor: Canterbury of New Zealand) finds the Roosters coming to Auckland in unfamiliar territory. They were the minor premiers in each of the last three seasons and beat Manly 26-18 in the 2013 grand final yet after 14 rounds this year they lie 15th with just three wins and 10 losses. One of those losses was the dramatic encounter in Gosford when Roger Tuivasa-Sheck’s stunning try gave the Vodafone Warriors a 32-28 golden point win.
While they are without Origin players Aidan Guerra and Blake Ferguson plus the injured Boyd Cordner, the Roosters still boast plenty of quality including Shaun Kenny-Dowall and Dylan Napa returning from injury and suspension. There might also be a chance of halfback Mitchell Pearce coming back from a calf injury. Time will tell on that.
The visitors are also hurting after a grim 0-46 loss to Melbourne last week but they did have a 32-18 victory over Wests Tigers the previous round.
The Vodafone Warriors are seeking a third win on end for the first time since June-July last year when they accounted for Gold Coast, Canberra and Melbourne.
After the challenges in May following losses to Penrith in Christchurch and Canberra in New Plymouth, the Vodafone Warriors have rebounded well by amassing 86 points and conceding just 32 in victories over Brisbane and Newcastle.
Simon Mannering plays his 248th match this week, Shaun Johnson is 28 points away from equalling Stacey Jones’ all-time club record of 674 and the Vodafone Warriors will play their 249th game at Mount Smart Stadium.
VICTORIES v ROOSTERS AT MOUNT SMART STADIUM
April 30, 1995 | Vodafone Warriors 26, Sydney Roosters 22
March 27, 1998 | Vodafone Warriors 25, Sydney Roosters 14
March 26, 2000 | Vodafone Warriors 26, Sydney Roosters 22
August 18, 2001 | Vodafone Warriors 14, Sydney Roosters 8
March 24, 2002 | Vodafone Warriors 21, Sydney Roosters 14
August 27, 2006 | Vodafone Warriors 42, Sydney Roosters 16
September 19, 2008 | Vodafone Warriors 30, Sydney Roosters 13
April 19, 2009 | Vodafone Warriors 17 Sydney Roosters 16
April 9, 2011 | Vodafone Warriors 24, Sydney Roosters 12
May 12, 2012 | Vodafone Warriors 30, Sydney Roosters 26
VODAFONE WARRIORS v SYDNEY ROOSTERS
Mount Smart Stadium, Auckland
6.10pm, Sunday, June 19
Referees: Jared Maxwell 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 KEN MAUMALO (Papatoetoe Panthers)
6 THOMAS LEULUAI (Papatoetoe Panthers)
7 SHAUN JOHNSON (Hibiscus Coast Raiders)
8 ALBERT VETE (Mangere East Hawks)
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 TOAFOFOA SIPLEY (Richmond Rovers)
17 CHARLIE GUBB (University Hunters)
HEAD COACH | ANDREW McFADDEN
1 LATRELL MITCHELL
2 DANIEL TUPOU
3 SHAUN KENNY-DOWALL
4 DALE COPLEY
5 JOSEPH MANU
6 RYAN MATTERSON
7 JACKSON HASTINGS
8 JARED WAEREA-HARGREAVES
9 JAKE FRIEND (c)
10 SAM MOA
11 SIO SIUA TAUKEIAHO
12 MITCHELL AUBUSSON
13 DYLAN NAPA
14 ISAAC LIU
15 KANE EVANS
16 CONNOR WATSON
17 CHRIS SMITH
18 MITCHELL FREI
COACH | TRENT ROBINSON
FIVE KEY FEATURES
#1 SHAUN JOHNSON | It's no coincidence Johnson has hit form on the back of the Vodafone Warriors’ dominance in the middle of the park against Brisbane and Newcastle. He has been heavily involved in both contests as the Vodafone Warriors have piled on a total of 16 tries.
#2 ALBERT VETE & SAM LISONE | With Jacob Lillyman on Origin duty, Vete (27 games) and Lisone (29 games) are the next most-experienced front rowers behind Ben Matulino. They’re both set to be tasked with playing extra minutes this week.
#3 KEN MAUMALO | A big unit in the mould of the man he’s replacing. With Manu Vatuvei out with a hamstring injury, ‘Big Ken’ has a game built on the same lines featuring strong carries out of defence and a healthy try-scoring strike rate. He’s making his first NRL appearance of the year.
#4 DAVID FUSITU’A | With his four-try haul against Newcastle last week, Fusitu’a is now one of seven players to score four or more tries in a game for the club. He has seven tries in seven games this season and 16 in 20 appearances since debuting in 2014.
#5 SOLOMONE KATA | Among the club’s most consistent performers this season, the damaging Kata has 10 tries in 12 games so far and 22 in 36 matches overall. He faces another demanding defensive assignment marking Kiwi centre Shaun Kenny-Dowall.
TOP STATS | v NEWCASTLE KNIGHTS | WON 50-14
Penalties | Vodafone Warriors 5, Newcastle 6.
Completions | Vodafone Warriors 29/39 (74%), Newcastle 22/28 (79%).
Total runs | Vodafone Warriors 201, Newcastle 129.
Metres gained | Vodafone Warriors 1888, Newcastle 1170.
Line breaks | Vodafone Warriors 13, Newcastle 1.
Tackle breaks | Vodafone Warriors 48, Newcastle 24.
Kicks (kicking metres) | Vodafone Warriors 17 (310), Newcastle 15 (358).
Tackles Made | Vodafone Warriors 216, Newcastle 343.
Missed tackles | Vodafone Warriors 24, Newcastle 48.
Offloads | Vodafone Warriors 11, Newcastle 14.
Errors | Vodafone Warriors 6, Newcastle 7.
Runs | Vodafone Warriors: Tuimoala Lolohea 20, Jacob Lillyman 17, David Fusitu’a 15, Simon Mannering 15, Shaun Johnson 15, Sam Lisone 14, Solomone Kata 14, Ryan Hoffman 12, Blake Ayshford 12, Ben Matulino 11, Bodene Thompson 11, Issac Luke 10. Newcastle: Dane Gagai 12, Jacob Saifiti 12, Korbin Sims 11, Daniel Saifiti 11, Mitchell Barnett 10.
Metres gained | Vodafone Warriors: Tuimoala Lolohea 225, David Fusitu’a 192, Jacob Lillyman 153, Solomone Kata 135, Sam Lisone 135, Issac Luke 132, Simon Mannering 132, Blake Ayshford 112, Ben Matulino 105. Newcastle: Sione Mata’utia 138, Dane Gagai 131, Jacob Saifiti 115, Korbin Sims 106, Daniel Saifiti 104.
Tackle breaks | Vodafone Warriors: Tuimoala Lolohea 7, Solomone Kata 5, Albert Vete 5, Issac Luke 4, Bodene Thompson 4, Manu Vatuvei 4. Newcastle: Dane Gagai 6, Sione Mata’utia 5.
Off loads | Vodafone Warriors: Jacob Lillyman 2, Bodene Thompson 2. Newcastle: Pauli Pauli 3.
Tackles made | Vodafone Warriors: Simon Mannering 41, Issac Luke 26, Bodene Thompson 20, Ryan Hoffman 20. Newcastle: Jacob Saifiti 32, Danny Levi 32, Sam Mataora 30, Mitchell Barnett 29, Daniel Saifiti 28, Kordin Smith 26, Jeremy Smith 25, Siome Mata’utia 22.
Missed tackles | Vodafone Warriors: Simon Mannering 0, Sam Lisone 0, Charlie Gubb 0, Manu Vatuvei 0, Nathaniel Roache 0, David Fusitu’a 0. Newcastle: Pauli Pauli 0.
Supports | Vodafone Warriors: Thomas Leuluai 9, David Fusitu’a 8, Blake Ayshford 7, Tuimoala Lolohea 7, Simon Mannering 7. Newcastle: Dane Gagai 8.
Decoys | Vodafone Warriors: Bodene Thompson 11, Simon Mannering 8, Jacob Lillyman 7. Newcastle: Jeremy Smith 5.
RECORD | v SYDNEY ROOSTERS
Overall Record | Played 36, Vodafone Warriors 19, Sydney Roosters 16, Drawn 1.
At Mount Smart Stadium | Played 16, Vodafone Warriors 10, Sydney Roosters 6.
Last 10 Games (home and away) | Vodafone Warriors 4, Sydney Roosters 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 248th NRL game (Stacey Jones’ record is 261).
250 NRL games (all for Vodafone Warriors) | Simon Mannering plays his 248th NRL game.
200 NRL games (all for Vodafone Warriors) | Ben Matulino plays his 186th NRL game.
200 NRL games (overall) | Issac Luke plays his 201st NRL game (his 13th for the Vodafone Warriors) after appearing in 188 matches for South Sydney.
150 NRL games for Vodafone Warriors | Jacob Lillyman has played 158 NRL games for the Vodafone Warriors, 220 in his career including 62 for North Queensland (record for the most games for the club by an Australian player). He’s on State of Origin for this game.
150 NRL games (overall) | Blake Ayshford plays his 138th NRL game (his 14th consecutive match 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 39th NRL game for the Vodafone Warriors; Solomone Kata plays his 37th NRL game for the Vodafone Warriors.
150 NRL tries | Manu Vatuvei has scored 149 tries in 217 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 231 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 646 points; Manu Vatuvei has scored 596 points.
500 NRL points | Issac Luke has scored 430 points.
50 NRL tries | Shaun Johnson has 52 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 57th time. His record is 25 wins, 31 losses.
250 games at Mount Smart Stadium | This is the Vodafone Warriors’ 249th game at Mount Smart Stadium (they have so far played 245 regular season games plus three home finals).
2000 tries in the NRL | 1968 (1995-2016)
BETTING – CHECK OUT ALL THE ODDS WWW.TAB.CO.NZ
Head to head | Vodafone Warriors $1.37, Sydney Roosters $2.90
SKY SPORT 2: Live from 5.30pm (kick-off 6.10pm), Sunday, June 19
3.45pm | Vodafone Junior Warriors v Sydney Roosters (NYC)