Front rower Leeson Ah Mau becomes the NRL's newest 200-game player when he lines up in the Vodafone Warriors’ historic 22nd-round contest against the Sydney Roosters at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Sunday (2.00pm kick-off local time; 4.00pm NZT).
Ah Mau’s career milestone coincides with the first time the Vodafone Warriors have played at the famed SCG.
The 29-year-old Mangere East junior, one of only two players to appear in each of the club’s 20 matches this season, has been named to start again in a 17-man squad which is the same as the one used in last Friday night’s impressive 24-16 win over the fifth-placed Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles.
Ah Mau returned to the Vodafone Warriors this season after starting his NRL career with two appearances in 2009.
The New Zealand and Samoa international then linked up with North Queensland for two seasons (making 33 appearances in 2010 and 2011) before spending seven years with the St George Illawarra Dragons from 2012-2018 (144 games).
Renowned as one of the competition’s most consistent players, Ah Mau has underlined his value averaging 111 metres a game this season while he’s one of the most effective defenders in the game, making 577 tackles and missing just 10. In the win over Manly he ran 137 metres from 12 carries and made 29 tackles without a miss.
While head coach Stephen Kearney has named the same 17 players who started against Manly, he has included standoff Kodi Nikorima on the extended bench, the Kiwi halfback coming back into the frame from an ankle injury he suffered in the 19-18 win over the Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks. Nikorima missed the loss to Parramatta and then re-injured his ankle early in the match against Canberra which ruled him out last week.
The four players named in jerseys 14-17 are again Adam Keighran, who was used at hooker last Friday night, plus middle forwards Sam Lisone, Bunty Afoa and Ligi Sao. Kearney used only 16 players last week, the unused Lisone instead turning out for the club’s Canterbury Cup side on Sunday when he made 168 metres from 19 runs.
The Vodafone Warriors lie 11th on the ladder on 19 points, two behind eighth-placed Brisbane and three behind seventh-placed Penrith.
They face a Roosters side coming off an impressive 22-18 win over the in-form Canberra Raiders to sit second on the table.
The Vodafone Warriors lead the Roosters 22-17 (plus one draw) in the 40 games played between the sides since 1995. In 19 away matches, the Vodafone Warriors are 10-8 ahead with one draw.
While they put together a run of four consecutive wins over the Roosters in 2016, 2017 and 2018 (including a 30-6 victory at Sydney Football Stadium last season), the last clash between the two ended in a 32-0 triumph for the Roosters at Mount Smart Stadium last May.
VODAFONE WARRIORS v SYDNEY ROOSTERS
2.00pm, Sunday, August 18, 2019
Sydney Cricket Ground. Sydney
1 ROGER TUIVASA-SHECK (c)
2 ADAM POMPEY
3 PETA HIKU
4 GERARD BEALE
5 KEN MAUMALO
6 CHANEL HARRIS-TAVITA
7 BLAKE GREEN
8 AGNATIUS PAASI
9 JAZZ TEVAGA
10 LEESON AH MAU
11 ADAM BLAIR
12 ISAIAH PAPALI’I
13 LACHLAN BURR
14 ADAM KEIGHRAN
15 SAM LISONE
16 BUNTY AFOA
17 LIGI SAO
18 KODI NIKORIMA
20 BLAKE AYSHFORD
21 LEIVAHA PULU
22 HAYZE PERHAM
HEAD COACH | STEPHEN KEARNEY