Ben Matulino farewells his past and has an up-close look at his future when he runs out with the Vodafone Warriors against the Wests Tigers at Leichhardt Oval on Sunday.
The 28-year-old Wellingtonian will have the distinction of playing his 212th and final game for his foundation NRL club not only against his new club but also at one of the venues that will be home for him from next season.
Not only that, he’s also facing the coach who brought him into the NRL in 2008 and has now secured him at the Tigers.
After making a delayed start to the season following knee surgery, Matulino will be playing only his 16th game of the season, making this comfortably his quietest campaign in terms of on-field action at NRL level since his rookie year in 2008 (when he played 15 NRL matches).
She has been among the club’s most durable players stitching together annual outputs since 2008 of 18 games in 2009, 25 (2010), 28 (2011), 22 (2012), 24 (2013), 20 (2014), 21 (2015) and 23 (2016).
He achieved twin marks this year of becoming a member of the Vodafone Warriors’ 200-game club – just the fourth player to do so – as well as joining the elite group of players who have represented the Vodafone Warriors across 10 NRL seasons.
In his final outing, Matulino is the Vodafone Warriors’ lone seasoned front rower. Disappointingly for him, he doesn’t have the chance for one last appearance alongside the injured Jacob Lillyman, who has been in the trenches with him every season since he arrived in 2009.
Matulino goes into the battle averaging just over 12 carries, almost 119 metres and 28 tackles a game this season, similar to his numbers last year but down on his 2015 averages of almost 17 runs and 158 metres a game plus 27 tackles.