On a day when the Vodafone Warriors honour their old boys, a number will join their ranks after the Father’s Day season-ending 26th-round encounter with Parramatta at Mount Smart Stadium today (6.10pm kick-off).
The most notable will be veterans Thomas Leuluai and club legend Ali Lauitiiti.
Vodafone Warrior #105 Leuluai, who made his debut in 2003, ends his second stint at Mount Smart Stadium with his 85th and final NRL match before returning to England.
The 37-year-old Lauitiiti (#55) debuted at first-grade level in 1998, going on to play 115 times for the Vodafone Warriors before leaving in 2004 to start a long Super League career in England.
He returned home for a one-year contract with the Vodafone Warriors this year playing for the club’s Intrust Super Premiership side under coach Stacey Jones but a knee injury has kept out of the line-up for the latter stages of the season.
After today’s match captain Ryan Hoffman will acknowledge the NRL squad’s departing players including those who left the club during the season. One of them – halfback Jeff Robson – will line up for the Eels today.
Involved in the day will be a crew of old boys who have assembled for their annual reunion, now a tradition for the last home game each season.
Among the former players registered for the get together are Whetu Taewa (#5), Duane Mann (#9), Tea Ropati (#15), Stacey Jones (#24), Richie Blackmore (26), Mark Horo (#30), Iva Ropati (#35), Bryan Henare (#38), Jerry Seuseu (#50), Monty Betham (#61), Cliff Beverley (#62), Wairangi Koopu (#64), Francis Meli (#65), Boycie Nelson (#70), Talite Liavaa (#71), Shontayne Hape (#80), Justin Morgan (#88), Jason Temu (#89), Justin Murphy (#92), Jerome Ropati (#108), Steve Price (#121) and Ruben Wiki (#123).
In a nice touch today, each of the Vodafone Warriors will be accompanied by young club members as they run onto the field for the NRL match.
However, a sombre mood will hang over the entire day with all three Vodafone Warriors teams wearing black armbands as a mark of respect for fan Ronati Lemalu, who was killed by a train near Mount Smart Stadium before last Sunday’s match against Wests Tigers.
VODAFONE WARRIORS v PARRAMATTA | HOME WINS
May 5, 1996 | Auckland Warriors 28, Parramatta 4
July 7, 2001 | Vodafone Warriors 29, Parramatta 18
July 21, 2002 | Vodafone Warriors 26, Parramatta 10
May 10, 2003 | Vodafone Warriors 18, Parramatta 16
July 2, 2004 | Vodafone Warriors 20, Parramatta 10
March 17, 2007 | Vodafone Warriors 34, Parramatta 18
March 23, 2008 | Vodafone Warriors 30, Parramatta 16
March 14, 2009 | Vodafone Warriors 26, Parramatta 18
July 4, 2010 | Vodafone Warriors 35, Parramatta 6
July 12, 2014 | Vodafone Warrior 48, Parramatta 0
March 21, 2015 | Vodafone Warriors 29, Parramatta 16
VODAFONE WARRIORS v PARRAMATTA EELS
Mount Smart Stadium, Auckland
6.00pm, Sunday, September 4
Referees: Adam Gee and Gavin Reynolds
1 TUIMOALA LOLOHEA (Marist Saints)
2 JONATHAN WRIGHT (Northern Lake Warriors)
3 BLAKE AYSHFORD (Paddington Tigers)
4 DAVID FUSITU’A (Marist Saints)
5 KEN MAUMALO (Papatoetoe Panthers)
6 THOMAS LEULUAI (Papatoetoe Panthers)
7 SHAUN JOHNSON (Hibiscus Coast Raiders)
8 JACOB LILLYMAN (Richmond Tigers)
9 ISAAC LUKE (Hawera Hawks)
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 BUNTY AFOA (Point Chevalier Pirates)
18 NATHANIEL ROACHE (Mount Albert Lions)
HEAD COACH | ANDREW McFADDEN
1 BEVAN FRENCH
2 SEMI RADRADRA
3 MICHAEL JENNINGS
4 BRAD TAKAIRANGI
5 MICHAEL GORDON
6 CLINT GUTHERSON
7 JEFF ROBSON
8 DANNY WICKS
9 ISAAC DE GOIS
10 TIM MANNAH (c)
11 MANU MA’U
12 TEPAI MOEROA
13 BEAU SCOTT
14 KAYSA PRITCHARD
15 KENNY EDWARDS
16 PENI TEREPO
17 DANIEL ALVARO
18 DAVID GOWER
COACH | BRAD ARTHUR
FIVE KEY FEATURES
#1 THOMAS LEULUAI | One of the toughest competitors on the game makes his last appearance as a Vodafone Warrior this week. But for injury he would have played well in excess of 100 games in his total of six seasons with the club since his debut in 2003.
#2 SHAUN JOHNSON | Johnson is set to complete the season as the only player to appear in each of the club’s 24 matches this year, an impressive achievement coming back from the serious leg injury which ended his 2015 campaign prematurely.
#3 SIMON MANNERING | As ever, the redoubtable Mannering has put in consistently across every game he has played during his challenging 12th NRL campaign. His second tackle today will take him to 1000 tackles for the second season on end.
#4 KEN MAUMALO | The big wing makes a timely return after a hamstring injury ended his night early in the 24th-round away clash against North Queensland. Maumalo’s power running will give the Vodafone Warriors a strong start to their sets out of defence.
#5 ISSAC LUKE | The veteran hooker made a welcome return from knee surgery against Wests Tigers last week. He gives the side so many options out of dummy half with his direction, vision and his running game plus his kicking options.
TOP STATS | v WESTS TIGERS, MOUNT SMART STADIUM | LOST 24-36
Penalties | Vodafone Warriors 4, Wests Tigers 6.
Completions | Vodafone Warriors 28/36 (78%), Wests Tigers 31/38 (82%).
Total runs | Vodafone Warriors 154, Wests Tigers 161.
Metres gained | Vodafone Warriors 1582, Wests Tigers 1456.
Line breaks | Vodafone Warriors 8, Wests Tigers 6.
Tackle breaks | Vodafone Warriors 22, Wests Tigers 27.
Kicks (kicking metres) | Vodafone Warriors 18 (427), Wests Tigers 21 (675).
Tackles Made | Vodafone Warriors 297, Wests Tigers 286.
Missed tackles | Vodafone Warriors 27, Wests Tigers 22.
Offloads | Vodafone Warriors 11, Wests Tigers 9.
Errors | Vodafone Warriors 7, Wests Tigers 9.
Runs | Vodafone Warriors: David Fusitu’a 17, Manu Vatuvei 14, Solomone Kata 12, Thomas Leuluai 12, Simon Mannering 12, Tuimoala Lolohea 11, Ben Matulino 10, Albert Vete 10. Wests Tigers: Aaron Woods 20, David Nofoaluma 18, Jordan Rankin 16, TimSimona 11.
Metres gained | Vodafone Warriors: David Fusitu’a 225, Manu Vatuvei 147, Blake Ayshford 127, Solomone Kata 119, Tuimoala Lolohea 114, Thomas Leuluai 104, Ben Matulino 110, Simon Mannering 109, Albert Vete 100. Wests Tigers: Aaron Woods 185, Josh Addo-Carr 153, David Nofoaluma 139, Jordan Rankin 118, Sauaso Sue 107, Ava Semanufagai 101.
Tackle breaks | Vodafone Warriors: David Fusitu’a 8. Wests Tigers: David Nofualuma 9, Tim Simona 4.
Tackles made | Vodafone Warriors: Simon Mannering 45, Bodene Thompson 35, Issac Luke 33, Ben Matulino 26, Jacob Lillyman 23, Ryan Hoffman 21, Albert Vete 20. Wests Tigers: Elijah Taylor 54, Joel Edwards 28, Tim Grant 27, Ava Seumanufagai 23, Josh Aloiai 22, Dene Halatau 21.
Missed tackles | Vodafone Warriors: Ryan Hoffman 0, Solomone Kata 0, Manu Vatuvei 0, Sam Lisone 0, David Fusitu’a 0. Wests Tigers: Dene Halatau 0, Kevin Naiqama 0, Aaron Woods 0, Sauaso Sue 0, Ava Seumanufagai 0, Tim Grant 0, Curtis Sironen 0.
RECORD | v PARRAMATTA EELS
Overall Record | Played 35, Vodafone Warriors 16, Parramatta 19
Home (Mount Smart Stadium) | Played 16, Won 11, Lost 5.
Last 10 Games (home and away) | Vodafone Warriors 6, Parramatta 4.
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 258th NRL game (Stacey Jones’ record is 261).
250 NRL games (all for Vodafone Warriors) | Simon Mannering plays his 258th NRL game.
200 NRL games (all for Vodafone Warriors) | Ben Matulino plays his 196th NRL game.
200 NRL games (overall) | Issac Luke plays his 208th NRL game; it’s his 20th game for the Vodafone Warriors after appearing in 188 matches for South Sydney.
150 NRL games for Vodafone Warriors | Jacob Lillyman plays his 167th game for the Vodafone Warriors (record for the most games for the club by an Australian player). It’s the 229th in his career including 62 for North Queensland.
150 NRL games (overall) | Blake Ayshford plays his 147th 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 48th NRL game for the Vodafone Warriors; Solomone Kata has played 45 NRL games for the Vodafone Warriors.
150 NRL tries | Manu Vatuvei has scored 151 tries in 224 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 472 points.
50 NRL tries | Simon Mannering has 56 tries; Shaun Johnson 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 67th time. His record in 66 games is 29 wins, 37 losses.
250 games at Mount Smart Stadium | The Vodafone Warriors’ play their 254th game at Mount Smart Stadium this week (they have so far played 250 regular season games plus three home finals at Mount Smart Stadium).
2000 tries in the NRL | 2000 (1995-2016)
BETTING – CHECK OUT ALL THE ODDS www.tab.co.nz
Head to head | Vodafone Warriors $1.60, Parramatta Eels $2.35
SKY SPORT 2: Live from 5.30pm (kick-off 6.10pm NZT), Sunday, September 4