Simon Mannering and Mount Smart Stadium will be in sharp focus for a unique double 250 celebration when the Vodafone Warriors host the Gold Coast Titans in Saturday’s 17th-round NRL clash (5.00pm kick-off; match day sponsor: TNT).
The 29-year-old Mannering, one of the modern-day game’s most consistent and durable players, will become only the second player after the great Stacey Jones to appear in 250 NRL matches for the Vodafone Warriors.
The encounter with the Titans will bring Mannering within 12 games of going past Jones’ record 261 games.
His feat will also coincide with the Vodafone Warriors’ 250th first-grade game at Mount Smart Stadium since the club’s beloved home was christened by the original Auckland Warriors at the then-named Ericsson Stadium on March 10, 1995. The games so far have comprised 246 regular season matches and finals against Canberra in 2002, Parramatta in 2007 and the Sydney Roosters in 2008.
Of Mannering’s 249 games to date, 113 have been at Mount Stadium while the club’s record at the grand old lady shows 145 wins, a draw and 103 losses for a success rate of 58.2 per cent. Mannering has featured in 12 of the club’s 22 seasons to date.
He will be part of settled side named today following Saturday’s night’s dramatic 18-19 golden point loss to Cronulla, a result which left the Vodafone Warriors with a 7-8 record. They’re just two points off eighth place with five home games and four away fixtures to go in the regular season.
Vodafone Warriors head coach Andrew McFadden has made minimal changes to the side eventually used against Cronulla.
After being originally picked on the wing but then switched to fullback, the impressive David Fusitu’a is this week named in the No 1 jersey while Tuimoala Lolohea, who came off the bench last week, is named on the right wing replacing Jonathan Wright. Nathaniel Roache is back on the interchange after turning out at hooker for the Vodafone Junior Warriors in their 36-32 win over Cronulla; the rest of the bench is unchanged comprising front rowers Ben Matulino, Sam Lisone and Charlie Gubb.
Saturday’s clash is the first of two against the Titans in just a few weeks with the two sides meeting again in the 22nd round in Robina on Sunday, August 7.
The Vodafone Warriors have won 11 of their 18 matches against the Titans since they came into the competition in 2007. They had eight straight victories over them from 2011-2014 before being beaten at Mount Smart Stadium on Anzac Day last year. They won the return match at Cbus Super Stadium 36-14 in June to give them a record of nine wins in the last 10 battles; in eight contests at Mount Smart Stadium the record is 5-3 in the Vodafone Warriors’ favour.
VODAFONE WARRIORS v GOLD TITANS
Mount Smart Stadium, Auckland
5.00pm, Saturday, July 2
1 DAVID FUSITU’A
2 TUIMOALA LOLOHEA
3 BLAKE AYSHFORD
4 SOLOMONE KATA
5 KEN MAUMALO
6 THOMAS LEULUAI
7 SHAUN JOHNSON
8 JACOB LILLYMAN
9 ISSAC LUKE
10 ALBERT VETE
11 BODENE THOMPSON
12 RYAN HOFFMAN (c)
13 SIMON MANNERING
14 NATHANIEL ROACHE
15 SAM LISONE
16 BEN MATULINO
17 CHARLIE GUBB
HEAD COACH | ANDREW McFADDEN