In a season built around the NRL’s #HistoryHappens hashtag, the Vodafone Warriors have the chance to add another chapter to the story when they face Manly in Saturday’s 19th-round match at nib Stadium in Perth (3.30pm kick-off local time; 7.30pm NZT).
Just a game after marking twin 250-game milestones for Simon Mannering and Mount Smart Stadium, the focus now is on striving to become the first Vodafone Warriors side to win in Perth.
Seven previous attempts have ended in defeat, first against the Western Reds in 1996 and 1997 and then Cronulla in 2005, Manly in 2012 and South Sydney in 2013, 2014 and 2015.
The Sea Eagles enjoy a better record against the Vodafone Warriors than every other club but St George Illawarra. Of the 28 encounters between the two sides, Manly has won 20 including 10 of the last 11.
Their first match in Perth in 2012 delivered a remarkable spectacle, the Vodafone Warriors leading 22-6 well into the second half only for the Sea Eagles to come home in a rush to win 24-22.
While they’re yet to win in the west, the Vodafone Warriors don’t want for players who have experienced the NRL’s longest trip.
Veteran Manu Vatuvei is on his sixth journey to the state while hooker Issac Luke is even more familiar with the west after playing there seven times for South Sydney from 2009-2015.
Of the Vodafone Warriors side named for this week’s match, 11 faced South Sydney at nib Stadium last season while Simon Mannering, Shaun Johnson, Ben Matulino and Jacob Lillyman have made multiple visits as has captain Ryan Hoffman. He was there as a Vodafone Warrior last year after previously making the trip with Melbourne.
THE ODDS WITH WWW.TAB.CO.NZ
Head to head | Manly Sea Eagles $2.00, Vodafone Warriors $1.75
SKY SPORT 2: Live from 7.00pm (kick-off 7.30pm NZT), Saturday, July 16
FIVE KEY FEATURES
#1 BACK THREE | With Manu Vatuvei back from injury, head coach Andrew McFadden has taken the opportunity to field the biggest back three imaginable, ‘The Beast’ joining forces with two other giants in fellow wing Ken Maumalo and fullback David Fusitu’a.
#2 MANU VATUVEI | For Vatuvei, it’s like starting the season all over again this week. A rib injury, two hamstring setbacks and his unavailability in May have meant ‘The Beast’ has been unable to string a substantial number of games together so far this year.
#3 PERTH | It’s a given that the trip from Auckland to Perth is a huge undertaking for the Vodafone Warriors. The club’s previous seven games in Western Australia have been split between the Western Reds, Cronulla, Manly and South Sydney using three different venues.
#4 SHAUN JOHNSON | Along with centre Blake Ayshford, Johnson is the only player who has appeared in each of the club’s 16 games so far. Despite being troubled by a niggling thigh complaint recently he is the side’s second top try scorer so far with nine.
#5 ISSAC LUKE | On the Vodafone Warriors’ last three visits to Perth, Luke has been a foe with the ‘home’ side South Sydney. This week he sees the contest from the away team’s perspective looking to continue his run of impressive recent form for the Vodafone Warriors.
VODAFONE WARRIORS | NRL MATCHES IN PERTH
July 20, 1996 - Auckland Warriors 12, Western Reds 32
June 1, 1997 - Auckland Warriors 12, Western Reds 24
May 7, 2005 - Vodafone Warriors 24, Cronulla 28
July 28, 2012 - Vodafone Warriors 22, Manly 24
July 7, 2013 - Vodafone Warriors 13, South Sydney 30
June 7, 2014 - Vodafone Warriors 18, South Sydney 34
June 6, 2015 - Vodafone Warriors 4, South Sydney 36
RECORD | v MANLY SEA EAGLES
Overall Record | Played 28, Vodafone Warriors 8, Manly 20.
Away | Played 12, Won 5, Lost 7.
Last 10 Games (home and away) | Vodafone Warriors 1, Manly 9.
Record in Perth (1996-2015) | Played 7, Won 0, Lost 7.
VODAFONE WARRIORS v MANLY SEA EAGLES
nib Stadium, Perth
3.30pm, Saturday, July 16
Referees: Gavin Badger and Chris James
1 DAVID FUSITU’A (Marist Saints)
2 KEN MAUMALO (Papatoetoe Panthers)
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 Tigers)
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 TUIMOALA LOLOHEA (Marist Saints)
15 SAM LISONE (Otara Scorpions)
16 BUNTY AFOA (Point Chevalier Pirates)
17 CHARLIE GUBB (University Hunters)
18 JAMES GAVET (Richmond Rovers)
HEAD COACH | ANDREW McFADDEN
MANLY SEA EAGLES
1 TOM TRBOJEVIC
2 JORGE TAUFUA
3 LEWIS BROWN
4 MATTHEW WRIGHT
5 BRAD PARKER
6 JAMIE LYON
7 DALY CHERRY-EVANS
8 DARCY LUSSICK
9 APISAI KOROISAU
10 MARTIN TAUPAU
11 NATHAN GREEN
12 JAMIE BUHRER
13 JAKE TRBOJEVIC
14 BLAKE LEARY
15 JOSH STARLING
16 ADDIN FONUA-BLAKE
17 SOSAIA VAVE
18 LUKE BURGESS
COACH | TRENT BARRETT
TOP STATS | v GOLD COAST TITANS | WON 27-18
Penalties | Vodafone Warriors 5, Gold Coast 5.
Completions | Vodafone Warriors 32/38 (84%), Gold Coast 29/35 (83%).
Total runs | Vodafone Warriors 169, Gold Coast 149.
Metres gained | Vodafone Warriors 1690, Gold Coast 1448.
Line breaks | Vodafone Warriors 4, Gold Coast 2.
Tackle breaks | Vodafone Warriors 35, Gold Coast 21.
Kicks (kicking metres) | Vodafone Warriors 18 (427), Gold Coast 22 (496).
Tackles Made | Vodafone Warriors 320, Gold Coast 310.
Missed tackles | Vodafone Warriors 21, Gold Coast 35.
Offloads | Vodafone Warriors 8, Gold Coast 7.
Errors | Vodafone Warriors 7, Gold Coast 7.
Runs | Vodafone Warriors: David Fusitu’a 17, Ben Matulino 15, Bodene Thompson 14, Ken Maumalo 14, Solomone Kata 12, Tuimoala Lolohea 11, Simon Mannering 11, Thomas Leuluai 11, Albert Vete 10, Sam Lisone 10. Gold Coast: Zeb Taia 15, Chris McQueen 13, Luke Douglas 12, Greg Bird 12, Agnatius Paasi 12, Cameron Cullen 11, Ryan James 10.
Metres gained | Vodafone Warriors: Bodene Thompson 161, Blake Ayshford 160, David Fusitu’a 157, Ben Matulino 154, Ken Maumalo 146, Shaun Johnson 143, Solomone Kata 123. Gold Coast: Josh Hoffman 177, Anthony Don 132, Chris McQueen 124, Zeb Taia 118, Greg Bird 112, Agnatius Paasi 111, Luke Douglas 104, Cameron Cullen 103.
Tackle breaks | Vodafone Warriors: Solomone Kata 11, Shaun Johnson 6, Bodene Thompson 5. Gold Coast: Cameron Cullen 10, Josh Hoffman 4.
Off loads | Vodafone Warriors: Shaun Johnson 2, Issac Luke 2. Gold Coast: Zeb Taia 2.
Tackles made | Vodafone Warriors: Bodene Thompson 46, Simon Mannering 38, Ben Matulino 36, Jacob Lillyman 35, Issac Luke 27, Bunty Afoa 24, Charlie Gubb 22. Gold Coast: Nathan Peats 54, Ryan James 42, Luke Douglas 35, Greg Bird 26, Zeb Taia 23, Agnatius Paasi 22.
Missed tackles | Vodafone Warriors: Simon Mannering 0, Bunty Afoa 0, Shaun Johnson 0, Sam Lisone 0, Tuimoala Lolohea 0, Solomone Kata 0. Gold Coast: Nathan Peats 0, Luke Douglas 0, Ryan James, Lachlan Burr, Nene Macdonald 0.
Supports | Vodafone Warriors: Tuimoala Lolohea 10, Thomas Leuluai 9, Blake Ayshford 8, Solomone Kata 8, Ken Maumalo 7, Albert Vete 7. Gold Coast: Chris McQueen 7, Nene Macdonald 6, Cameron Cullen 6, Zeb Taia 5.
Decoys | Vodafone Warriors: Ben Matulino 7, Bunty Afoa 5. Gold Coast: Luke Douglas 5.
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).
Bunty Afoa (#213) made his club debut for the Vodafone Warriors against Gold Coast at Mount Smart Stadium on July 2 (Round 17).
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).
Bunty Afoa (#213) made his NRL debut for the Vodafone Warriors against Gold Coast at Mount Smart Stadium on July 2 (Round 17).
Most NRL appearances for Vodafone Warriors | Simon Mannering plays his 251st NRL game (Stacey Jones’ record is 261).
250 NRL games (all for Vodafone Warriors) | Simon Mannering plays his 251st NRL game.
200 NRL games (all for Vodafone Warriors) | Ben Matulino plays his 189th NRL game.
200 NRL games (overall) | Issac Luke plays his 204th NRL game (his 16th for the Vodafone Warriors) after appearing in 188 matches for South Sydney.
150 NRL games for Vodafone Warriors | Jacob Lillyman plays his 161st NRL game for the Vodafone Warriors (record for the most games for the club by an Australian player). It’s the 223rd in his career including 62 for North Queensland.
150 NRL games (overall) | Blake Ayshford plays his 141st NRL game (his 17th 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 42nd NRL game for the Vodafone Warriors; Solomone Kata plays his 40th 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. The only current players ahead of him are Billy Slater (172 in 278 games) and Brett Stewart (163 in 233 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 655 points (Stacey Jones’ club record is 674); Manu Vatuvei has scored 596 points.
500 NRL points | Issac Luke has scored 454 points.
50 NRL tries | Shaun Johnson has 54 tries; Blake Ayshford has 42 tries; Issac Luke has 39 tries; Jonathan Wright has 36 tries.
50 NRL games as NRL coach (all for Vodafone Warriors) | Andrew McFadden coaches the Vodafone Warriors for the 60th time. His record in 58 games is 27 wins, 32 losses.
250 games at Mount Smart Stadium | The Vodafone Warriors’ played their 250th game at Mount Smart Stadium when they faced Gold Coast on July 2 (they have so far played 247 regular season games plus three home finals at Mount Smart Stadium).
2000 tries in the NRL | 1976 (1995-2016)