Shaun Johnson and the Vodafone Warriors as a team are within reach of two significant milestones when the club hosts Wests Tigers in Sunday’s 25th-round NRL match at Mount Smart Stadium (4.00pm kick-off).
The encounter is the first of two home games to end the Vodafone Warriors’ regular season with Parramatta to follow on Sunday week.
The 25-year-old Johnson goes into the contest with 667 points in 123 appearances to leave him just eight points away from beating the great Stacey Jones’ club record 674 points in 261 games.
Johnson has been the go-to goal-kicking option more regularly than Jones was during his 12 seasons in the NRL. Johnson has so far scored 55 tries, kicked 220 goals and seven field goals while Jones’ tally comprises 77 tries (second to Manu Vatuvei’s 151 tries), 176 goals and 14 field goals.
While Johnson is within reach of a new individual standard for the club, the team mark of 2000 tries is also within reach.
In 536 matches since entering the competition in 1995, the Vodafone Warriors have 1996 tries (an average of 3.72 tries a game) with 83 in 22 games so far this season. Fellow 1995 newcomer North Queensland has 1929 tries in 539 matches, an average of 3.57 tries a game. Only two clubs – Melbourne (4.24) and Brisbane (4.09) – average more than four tries a game while just two other clubs rate ahead of the Vodafone Warriors, and then by a fraction (Canberra with 3.79 tries a game and St George Illawarra with 3.73).
Also nearing major milestones are Simon Mannering and Ben Matulino.
Mannering, who turns 30 on game day this Sunday, plays his 257th NRL game leaving him only four short of Jones’ club record 261. The indefatigable back rower is also close to 1000 tackles for the second season running, his astonishing 69 in 73 minutes against the Cowboys taking him up to 953 (an average 48 a game) with Sydney Roosters hooker Jake Friend (1164) the only player ahead of him.
Front rower Matulino is nearing his 200th career appearance, a mark achieved for the Vodafone Warriors by only Jones, Mannering and Vatuvei. Matulino plays his 195th game on Sunday, just two games ahead of Brisbane hooker Andrew McCullough in the quest to become the first NYC graduate to play 200 NRL games (Matulino, a foundation NYC player in 2008, was the first to the 100 and 150 marks).
VODAFONE WARRIORS v WESTS TIGERS | HOME WINS
At Mount Smart Stadium, Auckland
September 6, 2002 | Vodafone Warriors 28, Wests Tigers 12
September 6, 2003 | Vodafone Warriors 32, Wests Tigers 16
May 29, 2005 | Vodafone Warriors 21, Wests Tigers 4
May 20, 2006 | Vodafone Warriors 34, Wests Tigers 12
May 31, 2009 | Vodafone Warriors 14, Wests Tigers 0
April 11, 2015 | Vodafone Warriors 32, Wests Tigers 22
At Westpac Stadium, Wellington
March 29, 2014 | Vodafone Warriors 42, Wests Tigers 18
VODAFONE WARRIORS v WESTS TIGERS
Mount Smart Stadium, Auckland
4.00pm, Sunday, August 28
Referees: Gerard Sutton and Alan Shortall
1 DAVID FUSITU’A (Marist Saints)
2 TUIMOALA LOLOHEA (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 Tigers)
9 NATHANIEL ROACHE (Mount Albert Lions)
10 ALBERT VETE (Mangere East Hawks)
11 BODENE THOMPSON (Tauranga City Sharks)
12 RYAN HOFFMAN (Campbelltown Collegians) (c)
13 SIMON MANNERING (Te Aroha Eels)
14 ATA HINGANO (Pakuranga Jaguars)
15 SAM LISONE (Otara Scorpions)
16 BEN MATULINO (Te Aroha Eels)
17 JAMES GAVET (Richmond Rovers)
18 BUNTY AFOA (Point Chevalier Pirates)
HEAD COACH | ANDREW McFADDEN
1 DAVID NOFOALUMA
2 JORDAN RANKIN
3 TIM SIMONA
4 KEVIN NAIQAMA
5 JOSHUA ADDO-CARR
6 MITCHELL MOSES
7 LUKE BROOKS
8 AARON WOODS (c)
9 DENE HALATAU
10 SAUASO SUE
11 JOSH ALOIAI
12 CHRIS LAWRENCE
13 ELIJAH TAYLOR
14 KYLE LOVETT
15 AVA SEUMANUFANGAI
16 TIM GRANT
17 JOEL EDWARDS
18 MICHAEL CHEE-KAM
COACH | JASON TAYLOR
FIVE KEY FEATURES
#1 BODENE THOMPSON | Playing against a former club always generates added edge for players in that position. For Thompson it’s the fourth time this season that he lines up against an old team having done so twice against Gold Coast and the Tigers in round one.
#2 BLAKE AYSHFORD | For Ayshford, it’s the same as Thompson. They began the season facing their old Tigers team-mates and now they meet familiar faces again at the tail end of the campaign. They’ll both be desperate for a much better performance this time.
#3 TUIMOALA LOLOHEA | With recent first-choice wing Ken Maumalo injured, Lolohea is back where he was used in the first six rounds of the season. He also played on the right wing against Gold Coast – and scored a try – in the 27-18 win on July 2.
#4 ATA HINGANO | Having made his debut in Townsville last week, the 19-year-old now has the chance to play his first NRL game in front of family and friends. Distinguished start to his NRL career in a losing performance including the try he laid on for Ryan Hoffman.
#5 SOLOMONE KATA | Sorely missed when a hamstring injury forced him to miss the trip to Townsville, the first time injury has kept him out of the side since his debut last year. He goes into his 45th match with 26 career tries so far including a club-leading 14 this year.
TOP STATS | v NORTH QUEENSLAND COWBOYS | LOST 6-34
Penalties | Vodafone Warriors 3, North Queensland 6.
Completions | Vodafone Warriors 17/30 (57%), North Queensland 33/43 (77%).
Total runs | Vodafone Warriors 116, North Queensland 176.
Metres gained | Vodafone Warriors 1020, North Queensland 1664.
Line breaks | Vodafone Warriors 3, North Queensland 4.
Tackle breaks | Vodafone Warriors 13, North Queensland 28.
Kicks (kicking metres) | Vodafone Warriors 16 (404), North Queensland 23 (453).
Tackles Made | Vodafone Warriors 366, North Queensland 254.
Missed tackles | Vodafone Warriors 28, North Queensland 13.
Offloads | Vodafone Warriors 3, North Queensland 5.
Errors | Vodafone Warriors 13, North Queensland 10.
Runs | Vodafone Warriors: Manu Vatuvei 16, Ryan Hoffman 10. North Queensland: James Tamou 22, Jason Taumalolo 20, Scott Bolton 18, Antonio Winterstein 15, Kane Linnett 13, Ethan Lowe 13, Patrick Kaufusi 13, Gavin Cooper 11.
Metres gained | Vodafone Warriors: Manu Vatuvei 144. North Queensland: James Tamou 227, Jason Taumalolo 223, Antonio Winterstein 190, Scott Bolton 189, Kane Linnett 141, Ethan Lowe 123, Patrick Kaufusi 112.
Tackle breaks | Vodafone Warriors: Manu Vatuvei 3. North Queensland: Michael Morgan 4, James Tamou 4, Jason Taumalolo 4.
Tackles made | Vodafone Warriors: Simon Mannering 69, Bodene Thompson 43, Albert Vete 35, Thomas Leuluai 34, Jacob Lillyman 33, Nathaniel Roache 25, Shaun Johnson 20, Sam Lisone 20, Ben Matulino 20. North Queensland: Ethan Lowe 28, Coen Hess 26, Rory Kostjasyn 22, Michael Morgan 22.
Missed tackles | Vodafone Warriors: Simon Mannering 0. North Queensland: Ethan Lowe 0, Coen Hess 0, Jason Taumalolo 0, James Tamou 0, Patrick Kaufusi 0, Johnathan Thurston 0, Scott Bolton 0, Ray Thompson 0, Kyle Feldt 0.
Supports | Vodafone Warriors: Simon Mannering 6, Ryan Hoffman 5, Matt Allwood 4. North Queensland: Gavin Cooper 10, Johnathan Thurston 8, Antonio Winterstein 7, Lachlan Coote 7.
Decoys | Vodafone Warriors: Jacob Lillyman 4, Simon Mannering 4, Sam Lisone 4. North Queensland: Gavin Cooper 7, Patrick Kaufusi 5.
RECORD | v WESTS TIGERS
Overall Record | Played 26, Vodafone Warriors 13, Wests Tigers 13.
Home (including one game at Westpac Stadium, Wellington) | Played 11, Won 7, Lost 4.
Last 10 Games (home and away) | Vodafone Warriors 4, Wests Tigers 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).
Bunty Afoa (#213) made his club debut for the Vodafone Warriors against Gold Coast at Mount Smart Stadium on July 2 (Round 17).
Ata Hingano (#214) made his club debut for the Vodafone Warriors against North Queensland 1300SMILES Stadium on August 20 (Round 24).
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).
Ata Hingano (#214) made his NRL debut for the Vodafone Warriors against North Queensland at 1300SMILES Stadium on August 20 (Round 24).
Most NRL appearances for Vodafone Warriors | Simon Mannering plays his 257th NRL game (Stacey Jones’ record is 261).
250 NRL games (all for Vodafone Warriors) | Simon Mannering plays his 257th NRL game.
200 NRL games (all for Vodafone Warriors) | Ben Matulino plays his 195th NRL game.
200 NRL games (overall) | Issac Luke has played 206 NRL games; 18 for the Vodafone Warriors after appearing in 188 matches for South Sydney.
150 NRL games for Vodafone Warriors | Jacob Lillyman plays his 166th game for the Vodafone Warriors (record for the most games for the club by an Australian player). It’s the 228th in his career including 62 for North Queensland.
150 NRL games (overall) | Blake Ayshford plays his 146th NRL game 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 47th NRL game for the Vodafone Warriors; Solomone Kata plays his 45th NRL game for the Vodafone Warriors.
150 NRL tries | Manu Vatuvei has scored 151 tries in 223 NRL appearances. He scored his 150th try in the match against Canberra on July 23 becoming only the 11th player in the competition’s 108-year to achieve the feat. Vatuvei is 11th 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 as the only player in history to have scored 10 tries or more in 10 consecutive seasons; he achieved this from 2006-2015.
600 NRL points | Shaun Johnson has scored 667 points (Stacey Jones’ club record is 674); Manu Vatuvei has scored 604 points, third on the club’s list of all-time points-scorers.
500 NRL points | Issac Luke has scored 470 points.
50 NRL tries | Shaun Johnson has 55 tries; Simon Mannering has 55 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 66th time. His record in 65 games is 29 wins, 36 losses.
250 games at Mount Smart Stadium | The Vodafone Warriors’ play their 253rd game at Mount Smart Stadium this week (they have so far played 249 regular season games plus three home finals at Mount Smart Stadium).
2000 tries in the NRL | 1996 (1995-2016)
BETTING – CHECK OUT ALL THE ODDS www.tab.co.nz
Head to head | Vodafone Warriors $1.27, Wests Tigers $3.50
SKY SPORT 2: Live from 3.30pm (kick-off 4.05pm NZT), Sunday, August 28